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Wheelchair fund-raiser to be held in Bellerose

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Get ready old-timers who fondly remember the lazy days of summer and hanging out on street corners listening to doo-wop. The Friends of Joey Dente Jr. fund-raiser is going to take you down memory lane for the third year in a row.

“Joey’s Friends,” the foundation set up in honor of Joey Dente Jr. who died in 1993 of an immune deficiency, has been so successful in raising money for the Pediatric Pulmonary Function Lab at North Shore University Hospital at Manhasset that the lab now is operational and financially sound.

Now “Joey’s Friends Too” and The Bellerose/Floral Park Centre Lions Club will hold their third annual barbecue fund-raiser Sunday, June 10, at Fuzzy’s Pub at 239-21 Braddock Ave. in Bellerose to generate contributions for medical equipment to improve the quality of life for disabled children.

“My husband and I take this organization as almost an extension of parenting,” said Virginia Dente, Joey’s mother. “Joey’s Friends is like a grown son out on his own and Joey’s Friends Too is the new adopted child in the family. We want to help a child in any way we can.”

The fund-raiser is going to be an old-fashioned block party complete with entertainment, an all-day barbecue and raffles. To accommodate the party, 240th Street between Braddock and 89th Avenue will be closed from noon to 9 p.m.

Risky Business, a doo-wop band, will provide live entertainment and DJ Trina Janura will spin records throughout the day.

“The benefit is very important. We have seen and Virginia herself has seen the results to help children,” said Tommy Byrne, owner of Fuzzy’s and a member of the local Lions Club. “To help the children is why we hold the event so come out and help us help the kids.”

The Friends of Joey Dente Jr. is an organization started by Joey’s mother after her son’s death on June 28, 1993 of chronic granulomotous disease, a genetic immune deficiency. Because of labs such as “Joey’s,” diagnosis of the disease that took his life is now easier to make.

Now that the lab is fully funded and Joe and Virginia Dente have seen the success of Joey’s Friends, they are shifting gears to help disabled children.

Dente said that during the last few months of her son’s life he was confined to a rented wheelchair and the insurance company would not pay for Joey to be fitted with one of his own. She said they found a manufacturer that sent a salesperson to measure Joey for his own wheelchair.

“All he ever wanted was his own blue wheelchair,” Dente said.

The manufacturer promised to deliver the customized chair by the beginning of July, but Joey died on June 28, Dente said.

“Joe and Virginia’s new foundation — Joey’s Friends Too — will hopefully be able to never let that happen to another child,” Byrne said. “Its mission is to assist in the purchase of medical equipment necessary to promote the independence and enhanced quality of life for disabled children.”

For more information about the event, call 347-9643.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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