Suzanne M. Scanio Foundation

Suzanne+M.+Scanio+Foundation

Tara Villalba, Staff Writer

The authors of Pinkalicious will be shaking in their boots once they hear about the events folding communities across Long Island. In October 2010, “THINK PINK MONTH” was commemorated and paved the way for tons of unforgettable experiences nationwide, touching the lives of numerous breast cancer patients, survivors, and memorial foundations. 

The Massapequa School District has taken THINK PINK to the next level in 2021. The reason that this annual “Think Pink” celebration hits the hearts of many students and teachers alike, is because it was served in the memory of Massapequa-native teacher Suzanne. M Scanio.

Scanio had been teaching 3rd grade at Unqua Elementary for 2 decades before she passed away on October 16th, 2020. The official memorial service was held in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in April 2021. In July 2019, Suzanne was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, a lot of her family members’ lives were changed. “We had an unbelievable network who supported our family throughout the entire process,” said her husband of 20 years Mr. Charles Scanio. “Through our grief, we reached into our faith and wanted to turn a negative into a positive.” Mr. Charles Scanio has been teaching Earth Science at Berner Middle School for the same amount of time Mrs. Scanio has been teaching, so it was feasible for him to connect with the entire Massapequa school district as well as some other popular social media platforms. The official Instagram page is titled, “@suzannemscaniofoundation.”  The page aims to raise awareness of breast cancer research and to support families in need.

The couple raised 3 children: Thomas (21), and twins Christopher and Cara (20). It was Cara’s idea to take action and try to put an end to the disease that almost shattered her family. Cara would talk about ways to set up petitions and fundraisers to institute her mother’s legacy during dinner at her aunt’s house, and that’s when the proposed scholarships came into play. 

“A $1,000 check will be awarded to a graduating senior who went to Unqua Elementary School where Suzanne taught for over 25 Years,” Cara explained. “A second scholarship was established at St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip.” Suzanne was a graduate of St. John the Baptist High School in the late 1980s.

But the fruit of the organization was the official SMS painted bench. The Scanio family proposed this project in Dec 2020, in which people would feel Mrs. Scanio’s presence. When she was still on this earth, Suzanne would take strolls in the epicenter of Massapequa’s Marjorie Post Park.  “It has become a place of solace for so many to just sit, pray, laugh, or cry,” said Cara on the day of its grand reveal. “It’s really beautiful and is situated by the lake.” Cara is currently a junior at Hofstra University and is part of its Women’s Lacrosse team. Through her teammates’ help and compassion, the organization had gathered enough donations towards the construction of the bench. In about three months, funds exceeded the maximum, with a majority of it stemming from MHS breast cancer awareness month’s THINK PINK initiative.

Thankfully, Massapequa athletes, coaches, and booster clubs didn’t hesitate to promote the cause. Tons of student-athletes contributed to the organization by holding a THINK PINK volleyball tournament. All of the JV and varsity volleyball athletes wore pink t-shirts and pink tutus in the name of the organization. Not only have they achieved victory, but Massapequa had the opportunity to hold raffles, 50/50s, and more. 

Soon after, other Massapequa sports teams had followed the pink brick road such as Varsity Tennis, Track, Field Hockey, Swimming, and more! 

 “It’s a beautiful movement all in all,” says one student-athlete. “It inspires us to come together like a family and create a positive environment just like Suzanne wanted. Not only that, but it inspires other non-athletic students to become more involved in the school community by applying for scholarships, communicating with the student government, Venmos, and spreading the word! It makes you feel like you are taking significant steps towards change.” 

The Suzanne M. Scanio foundation families would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the athletes, coaches, Massapequa booster clubs, and the community for all the work done in supporting the organization. “We cannot express our love and appreciation for this town,” says Mr. Scanio on behalf of his mother and children. The amount of “Think Pink” donations were spent on many exciting activities and events. “We organized a fundraiser at Governors Comedy Club, which resulted in over 300 tickets being sold in just 5 days! Truly unbelievable,” says Mr. Scanio.  

An important message that the foundation wants to spread across the Massapequa community is that people must hold their head up high and stay positive when life gets tough. Cara has done this gracefully and masterfully ever since tragedy struck, and most of the Massapequa community has looked up to her and the Scanio family as shining role models that made a huge impact in everyone’s day-to-day lives.

The SMS foundation is looking forward to continuing to do kind and beautiful things for people in honor of a kind and beautiful person. 

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