Tony Lubrano said he couldn’t put a price on the 15 extra years he got to spend with his father, Pasquale, after Pasquale was given a leukemia diagnosis and told he had one year to live in 1991.
When he tried, Lubrano priced it at $1 million – the amount he planned to spend his life raising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as his bill for the treatment his father received.
“It was more of a lifetime goal,” said Lubrano, president of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce. “Possibly even going past my lifetime, asking my children to finish the job for me.”
He surpassed that goal in under a decade on Thursday night – with an excess of $86,000.
The money was raised during the 8th annual Night on the Town event held at the Jericho Terrace.
The event is led by Warriors For a Cause, a volunteer committee founded by Lubrano, Harry Zapiti and Fran D’Alessandro.
Reaching the $1 million mark wasn’t a “one person show,” Lubrano said. It was a combined effort of people across the eight years. Especially, he said, past honorees who continued to come back and donate year after year.
“I’m getting congratulated all day,” he said in an interview the following Friday. “But my greatest success was bringing in people and connecting with people who were willing to do the heavy lifting to make this happen.”
Past honorees include former Mineola Mayor and state Sen. Jack Martins as well as Kevin Lalezarian, a partner with the New Hyde Park-based Lalezarian Developers behind the new apartment buildings in Mineola.
This year’s honorees, Marc and Shari Weissbach, were a key force in Lubrano passing $1 million.
The Weissbachs had been sponsoring the event with $15,000 each year, Lubrano said.
Instead of just matching the $50,000 honorees raised in the past, the Weissbachs’ first call was with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to ask how far Lubrano was from reaching his goal, Lubrano said.
“They lifted us on their shoulders and crossed the finish line,” he said.
Lubrano said the event is successful because of its local roots.
Since the event’s conception the money raised has exponentially grown.
In the first years, Lubrano said it brought in about $20,000. The following couple of years raised around $40,000 to $60,000, he said.
While the numbers have grown the faces have remained familiar, Lubrano said. To this day when he walks into the Jericho Terrace ballroom where the event is held, Lubrano said can name half the people there.
“It’s such a dedicated loyal group of people who come back year after year,” he said.
Lubrano added that he’s seen the impact the money raised has had on research and treatments.
When the foundation started about 70 years ago, if a child was diagnosed with leukemia he or she had a 3 percent chance of surviving, Lubrano said.
Ten years ago, when Lubrano first got involved with the society, that number had risen to 67 percent, he said.
Today a child diagnosed with leukemia has a 92 percent chance of surviving, he said.
“The money that’s been raised really has an impact and makes a difference,” Lubrano said. “We are changing the world. There are kids living today that otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Now that Lubrano has reached his $1 million goal he doesn’t plan on stopping.
His new goal, though, doesn’t have a monetary value.
“If you’re the parent of the 8 percent that don’t come home do you care that 92 percent made it? You only know that yours didn’t,” Lubrano said. “So we fight on. We don’t stop at one million, we keep doing this until there’s a cure.”