Eagles vs. Vikings HS Staten Island Hockey Game Benefits Dr. Siolas Laboratory
By Aphrodite Kotrotsios
Supporting a cause you care about through a small donation can make a significant impact. The Staten Island community came together in a show of unanimous support for the 4th Annual pancreatic cancer fundraising event benefiting the “Dr. Despina Siolas” laboratory. This charitable event coincided with the H.S. hockey Eagles vs. Vikings game held on Monday, January 9th, 2024, at the Staten Island Skating Pavilion in Charleston, located at 3080 Arthur Hill Rd. The game drew a crowd of over three hundred attendees and featured a fabulous raffle with multiple prizes, all contributing to the fundraising efforts. St. Peter’s and St. Joseph by-the-Sea faced off in a CHSAA A division all-Island battle, with the Vikings emerging victorious in a 7-2 win. Dr. Despina Siolas, MD/Ph.D., from Weill Cornell Medicine, was in attendance.
This fourth annual game has been renamed the “Michael Manna Memorial Game” in honor of Michael Manna, a prominent figure in Staten Island hockey during his youth. Michael’s son, Evan, who was his team’s captain and leading scorer, sadly lost his father to pancreatic cancer last year. The game also paid tribute to Ralph Postiglione, a pancreatic cancer survivor, who attended as the guest of honor. Ralph’s sons, Vinny and Brian, serve as assistant coaches for the team.
The event organizer, Ed Blackburn, is a patient of Dr. Siolas and one of the few individuals to survive Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He has since returned to coaching varsity hockey at St. Peters High School, Staten Island, and is on a mission to give back to society. Ed Blackburn expressed his deep gratitude towards Dr. Siolas, who provided him with a personalized medical treatment combining immunotherapy and targeted therapy during his battle with cancer. Now in his 20th season at St. Peters High School, Coach Blackburn serves as an inspiration to the youth he coaches.
The fundraising efforts involved dedicated volunteers who went door-to-door seeking contributions from local businesses, families, and friends. Impressive gift baskets were assembled, and Mrs. Linda Blackburn, along with her friends Dorothy Triano, Karina Liantonio, and Karen Rello, played a pivotal role in organizing the raffle. A 50/50 cash raffle added to the excitement of the event.
Dr. Despina Siolas, a prominent figure at the event, praised its uniqueness in recognizing the challenges faced by pancreatic cancer patients and celebrating the triumphs of survivors. She emphasized her commitment to advocating for all cancer patients and working tirelessly to advance cancer research towards a cure.
Dr. Siolas holds degrees from the MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training Program at Stony Brook University School of Medicine/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, as well as St. John’s University, Benjamin Cardozo High School, and William Spyropoulos Day School of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Shrine Church in Bayside, NY.
Pancreatic cancer ranks as the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Its diagnosis and treatment pose significant challenges due to often inconspicuous symptoms and late-stage detection. For more information or to contribute, please contact the “St. Peter’s Eagles Hockey Club,” or you can mail your donations to Coach Blackburn at 40 Maine Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10314.