On the TV show, “The Office,” they had a chant that went like this: “Nobody parties like a Scranton party.” Well, move over Scranton, Pittston is giving you a run for your money.
With the downtown renaissance evolving, there’s always something new and exciting around the corner or another event that keeps Sarah Donahue, Pittston City special events coordinator, very busy. There’s the St. Patrick’s Parade, Tomato Festival, Columbus Day, Halloween and Christmas. One of these years, Pittston will host a jazz festival, I’m sure.
Pittston’s latest festive event was the Paint Pittston Pink (PPP) campaign where the entire city banded together to help fight breast cancer. At the forefront of PPP are breast cancer survivor Barbara Sciandra and Atty. Qiana Lehman.
When Barbara was stricken five years ago, she, along with her husband’s cousin Qiana, put together an effort to support Dr. Brian Czerniecki of the University of Pennsylvania and his team who are leading the way in the fight of breast cancer by developing a vaccine to prevent recurrence.
Barbara was one of the first patients to be used for Dr. Czerniecki’s clinical trial vaccine. Once she was injected with the vaccine, Barb’s levels came back to that of a person without cancer. This is a pretty huge deal in the medical community and Dr. Czerniecki is known worldwide for his work.
When I spoke to Barbara this past week, she said she’s very hopeful for the vaccine to be used on all cancer patients getting the results she’s gained from it. If this vaccine could be used for all cancers, it would be incredible.
Last weekend was the conclusion of a weeklong PPP fundraising effort. Over the course of that week, they held a purse bingo night, an event at Pazzo Restaurant, yoga at Sapphire Salon, celebrity bartending night at The Red Mill, a bachelor/bachelorette auction at The Tomato Bar and wrapped up the week with a 5K race and a Gentleman’s Dash where fine men in the community wore high heels and raced to raise money.
This was PPP’s fourth year of fundraising and, according to Barbara, the organization should raise approximately $90,000, just missing its goal of $100,000.
Since the day two women put their heads together in an effort to attempt to raise money for breast cancer and Dr. Czerniecki’s efforts, in particular, the PPP organization has raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Yes, that’s correct – nearly $250,000!
That’s a lot of dough and we have to take off our hats to Barbara, Qiana and the 20 or so people on the PPP committee for getting the job done.
I’ve only known Barbara a few short years, but this much I can tell you — she doesn’t want credit for any of this. She’s grateful for the team that stops everything for the PPP cause. But what she’s most thankful for are the people of Greater Pittston who come together to support the cause and support Dr. Czerniecki.
Of course, she could not do any of PPP without the support of her family, in particular her husband Sal and her children. Barbara feels it’s important to get her children involved, as well.
I had the opportunity to attend PPP’s 5K race and Gentleman’s Dash for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect because, like many of you, I only got the see the event through photos in the Sunday Dispatch.
It was so much fun seeing it in person. There were plenty of teams of people that ran the 5K race like Atty. Jarrett Ferentino who ran in honor of his dad. Jarrett resembled Tom Selleck whose face was on the t-shirt he wore.
It was a happy day and the weather cooperated even though it was unusually warm for the runners. Of course, there was pink EVERYWHERE! Pink t-shirts, pink dyed hair, pink sneakers and headbands, pink signs, pink artwork on storefronts and, of course, pink chalk… lots of pink chalk.
I was surprised at the size of the crowd gathered that day. Many were there to cheer on family and friends running in the race, there were many just there to support the cause, but I’d say a great deal of people were present to watch the Gentleman’s Dash. This was the third year the dash was held.
Who doesn’t want to see a bunch of men wearing women’s heels (or in Jerry Mancinelli’s case, thigh-high pink boots he wore for the 2016 race) in a 50-yard dash?
On a sad note, one of the dash competitors, Stephen Parulski, a popular guy in local media, unexectedly passed away a week before the race. He was only 48 years old.
The dash participants did a classy thing, though. Instead of one winner crossing the line, they all crossed it together while pointing to the heavens in Stephen’s honor. Nicely done fellas – it was a touching moment to end a great week for PPP.
I can’t wait to see what the committee will come up for next year.
Quote of the week
“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein, American conductor.
Thought of the week
“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way you learn to love by loving.” – Anatole France, French writer.
“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.” – Henri Bergson, French philosopher.