The Downtown Cafe held its fifth Sunday to raise money for children with cancer. The "shave-athon" held during and after this year's St. Patrick's Day parade has brought its fundraising total to over $170,000, a delight to cafe owner John Zozzaro and his team of dedicated volunteers.
Zozzaro, who co-owns the cafe with partners Vinny Abbondandolo and Frank Basile, have made the "shaving of the heads" an annual tradition, though 'Zozo', as Zozzaro is known, said this year they have special inspiration: 10-year-old .
"It's so special to have Billy at the event," Zozzaro said afterward. "It feels like the whole community is with us to help children like him. So many local organizations branch out to help us with fundraising. Glen Cove EMS, the fire department, including others from Locust Valley, Sea Cliff and Bayville. With him there - he's always in great spirits, a natural comedian. You can see the benefits of the efforts to help cancer victims right there."
Karen Rich, a former employee of the Downtown Cafe, shared Zozzaro's sentiment.
"There was so much camaraderie, it's very inspirational to see," she said.
The camaraderie and inspiration paid off this year, as the fifth annual event has raised over $48,000 so far and is poised to break the $50,000 mark with additional donations, including one expected from the NYCOM College of Osteopathic Medicine at NYIT.
The head shaving was run by Brian Basile of Strong Island Styles, cafe employee Jillian Rich, Sharon Montefusco and Kaitlyn Potenza.