By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An effort to use the Empire State Building to honor courageous children with cancer is gaining support from a wide variety of Brooklyn groups and health advocates after the building’s managers did not adhere to requests to authorize the tribute.
Advocates from across the country have requested that the New York landmark be lit in gold in tribute to kids with cancer at least some days in September. It would be part of a nationwide effort to have famous buildings lit up in gold for the kids.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Camille Orrichio Loccisano, founder of the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Bay Ridge that helps children with cancer and their families, took to Facebook to let her feelings be known. On her Facebook page, Orrichio Loccisano wrote, “The Empire State Building may be bigger in size but kids with cancer are bigger in heart, courage and unity.”
Orrichio Loccisano, whose son Francesco “Frankie” Loccisano, died of pediatric cancer in 2007 at the age of 17, wrote that there was a great deal of “public response and outrage” in the wake of a Fox 5 News story about the building management’s lack of action.
Bay Ridge resident Matthew Kabel, whose young daughter Sally has leukemia, told Fox 5 News that said he and other parents posted pictures of their kids on Facebook as a way of asking the building’s management to reconsider.
Councilman Vincent Gentile has also spoken out about the issue, pointing out that the building’s lights have been illuminated for all sorts of reasons, and that paying tribute to children with is a worthy cause.
“If we can light up the Empire State Building for Germany’s World Cup semi-finals victory, the ‘Lion King’ or a Swedish electronic dance music trio, then surely we can light the tower gold to help raise awareness and inspire action for childhood cancer initiatives,” said Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst).
Officials at various landmarks and iconic buildings from Boston to Budapest have all agreed to support the cause of children with cancer, Gentile said.
“It is our hope that this important national campaign will raise awareness by encouraging people to take action. And the end result will lead to the development of new childhood cancer therapies and initiatives across the country and bring us closer to a cure. I can’t imagine why the Empire State Building wouldn’t want to be a part of such a worthy initiative,” Gentile said.
The building’s managers did not issue a statement on the controversy, but a message on the building’s official website outlines the lighting criteria.
“The Empire State Building does not grant lightings for personal events such as birthdays, anniversaries, or weddings; commercial events; political campaigns; religious figures or events,” the message reads.
Those wishing to request special lighting on the building are instructed by another message on the website to fill out an application. The application is on the website.
On Tuesday, the lights on the Empire State Building were tinted to be blue in honor of the city’s effort to get the organizers of the Democratic National Convention to hold the 2016 convention in Brooklyn, according to the website.