By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“Look at all these people!” Camille Orrichio Loccisano said as she stood in the middle of a sea of people on the 69th Street pier in Bay Ridge on Sept. 15. Hundreds of people were standing on the pier that chilly morning and they were all there for the same purpose; to take part in the First Annual Walk to the Bridge for Frankie’s Kids, an event organized by the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation, a group Orrichio Loccisano started to help families of children with cancer.
The foundation is named in memory of Orrichio Loccisano’s late son, Francesco “Frankie” Loccisano, a 17-year-old Xaverian High School student who died of pediatric cancer in September of 2007. His mother decided to mark the fifth anniversary of his death with a fundraiser for the foundation. “I’m so happy with the turnout. I’m glad to see that so many people came out to support our foundation,” Orrichio Loccisano, a private school cooking instructor, said.
Hundreds of participants, from five-year-old children to senior citizens in their 80s, gathered on the 69th Street pier and then walked along the Shore Road Promenade to the foot of the Verrazano Bridge two miles away.
Many of the participants had formed teams in memory of cancer victims and walked with banners advertising their posthumous honorees. One such team was called “In the Name of Kane,” and was organized in tribute to the late Bay Ridge Eagle columnist Tom Kane, a member of the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation’s board of directors. Kane died of cancer in 2011. The team was organized by Anthony Marino, a drama teacher who co-founded brooklynONE, a Bay Ridge-based theater group, with Kane.
The charity walk was led by Daniel Fortunato, Jr., a 13-year-old leukemia survivor from New Jersey. He came to Bay Ridge that morning with his mother and father, Daniel and Susanna Fortunato. “When we heard about this foundation and what they do for families, we wanted to take part,” the elder Daniel Fortunato said.
Each participant paid an entry fee at the start of the walk. The foundation also sold T-shirts and knapsacks on the pier. The event raised hundreds of dollars for the foundation, according to organizers.
“We do important work,” foundation board member Linda Holmes said. “And we’re becoming well known. In hospitals, the social workers tell families of kids with cancer about us. We’ve gotten a lot of referrals from hospitals. We want to keep doing what we’re doing,” she said.