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Maspeth Pre-K student diagnosed with brain tumor

St. Stan’s community supports August Vinti’s family

By Jessica Meditz

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Like most four-year-old boys, August “Auggie” Vinti has a contagious smile, loves spending time with his family and friends, and has big dreams of being a firefighter when he grows up.

That’s why it was so devastatingly shocking for all who know him when he was diagnosed with aggressive Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG.

DIPG is a type of tumor that starts in the brain stem, which controls breathing, heart rate, and the nerves and muscles that help people carry out necessary functions. It has a survival rate of less than 2 percent.

Vinti’s family shared that the first signs of DIPG happened in May during school at St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy in Maspeth, where he attends.

Like most four-year-old boys, Auggie Vinti has a contagious smile, loves spending time with his family and friends, and has big dreams of being a firefighter when he grows up.

School faculty thought he was having a seizure after waking up from a nap, and his parents immediately took him to the doctor, who told them he only had a sinus infection.

But his aunt, Nicole Vinti, knew there was something seriously wrong.

“I sent him right to the emergency room to a specialized hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian, because I knew they had a traumatic brain injury and neurology department,” Vinti said. “So we went there, and they found the tumor. His speech was slurred and he was off-balance.”

Vinti said that although the hospital was able to diagnose this rare, aggressive type of cancer, that fact unfortunately doesn’t give the family more optimism.

“We have clinical trials, so we might try those. But he’s in the middle of radiation right now,” she said tearfully. “It’s really scary, and who could ever think this could happen? You can’t imagine it happening to your family.”

To support the family through this difficult time, a GoFundMe was started on behalf of Vinti. At the time of publication, $57,760 had been raised.

In addition to the overwhelming community support for Vinti through the GoFundMe, the St. Stan’s school community came together last week for a Disney Dance-A-Thon and Bake Sale to raise funds.

The event raised an excess of $19,000 to benefit Vinti and his family.

Students, family, faculty, and community members came out for an afternoon of fun in support of August Vinti.

“It’s so amazing that our community comes together to have a good time, but at the same time raises a tremendous amount of funds for one of our own families who is going through what no family should ever have to go through,” Catherine Mangone, principal of St. Stan’s, said.

“This is what I love most about this school, and what we raised from today does not count what we’ve raised before this, and what will come after,” she continued. “The GoFundMe is right on our website, and there’s a tab and it will take you right to it.”

Vinti and his family attended the Disney Dance-A-Thon on June 6.

His mom, Bailey Overko, expressed her gratitude for the Maspeth community coming together to support her son.

“It’s very nice, what they’re doing. It makes us feel really good,” Overko said. “We’re lucky we chose St. Stan’s as a school in the first place because we didn’t expect any of this or the way they’re coming together as a community. It’s just really great.”

Class parents Daisy Montalvo, Ivana Perrone, and St. Stan’s Pre-K Education Director Joan Forgione.

 

St. Stan’s hosts 11th Hall of Fame Dinner

School gym renamed ‘Rudzewick Hall’

On Saturday, the St. Stanislaus Kostka Educational Endowment Committee hosted its 11th annual dinner dance fundraiser, with parents, faculty and staff, families, friends, and other community supporters in attendance.

After two years of being unable to gather, the Committee eagerly presented eight honorees with awards: Rev. Monsignor Joseph Calise; Joan Forgione, education director of St. Stan’s Pre-K for All and the Maspeth Federal Savings’ Board of Directors; Daisy and Ray Montalvo, longtime parental supporters; Diane Marzuillo, Secretary of the St. Stan’s Board of Directors; Rachael Fitzpatrick, educator, lector, and eucharistic minister at St. Stan’s; and Louis Bekios, owner of Grand Florist and member of the Maspeth Kiwanis.

Honoree Joan Forgione and St. Stan’s Principal Catherine Mangone.

“As I look at the list of inductees, I see so many recognizable names: faculty members, former students, parents and grandparents of former and present students, and friends. Our parish community has been blessed by their efforts and I thank them for their work,” Catherine Mangone, principal of St. Stan’s, said.

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Endowment Committee. The Committee does not merely support our school with their words, but does so with their actions and their financial support,” she continued. “Their love for this school, and their commitment to its continued success, are blessings for which I am extremely grateful.”

With increased support from the community each year, the Committee has raised over $350,000 for the school, which has gone toward a STEM lab, scholarships, computers, and Smart Boards, upgrades to the school’s electrical service, as well as school summer programs.

In true St. Stanislaus Kostka fashion, the St. Stan’s Players gave musical performances to bring cheer to attendees.
But before everyone enjoyed their dinner, Rev. Monsignor Calise and Michael LoCascio, vice chair of St. Stan’s Board of Directors, presented a plaque to longtime supporters and Maspeth residents Barbara Rudzewick, president of the Endowment Committee, and her husband Ken Rudzewick, committee member.

Given their continued support of St. Stan’s, Calise and LoCascio announced that the school’s gym would be renamed “Rudzewick Hall” in their honor.

Honoree Diane Marzuillo and Barbara Rudzewick.

“This family gives endless support, and we’ve been racking our brains for three years, trying to figure out how to honor someone who’s so humbled,” LoCascio said.

Calise added, “To make sure that the generations to walk through these doors know the appreciation that we feel for you, and the gratitude that we have for the work that you’ve done, this room is being rededicated Rudzewick Hall.”

The Rudzewicks are extremely grateful for the gesture.

“We’ve both been baptized here, got married here, and all our children received their sacraments here,” Barbara Rudzewick said. “We’re so blessed to be a part of this community.”

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