Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Deb Milone and Love Holds Life Founder Richard Senato (front, center) are surrounded by City Hall personnel on the steps of Peekskill City Hall last month.
Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Deb Milone and Love Holds Life Founder Richard Senato (front, center) are surrounded by City Hall personnel on the steps of Peekskill City Hall last month.

Members of the Peekskill community showed their continuing support for children with cancer by “dressing down” last month in honor of the five-year anniversary of the Love Holds Life Children’s Cancer Foundation, which has a special connection to Peekskill.

“Love Holds Life is celebrating our five-year anniversary and the services we have provided to countless children in the Lower Hudson Valley,” said Love Holds Life Founder Richard J. Senato April 21 at City Hall. “Today, at Peekskill City Hall, employees who made donations are doing a dress down day by wearing Love Holds Life t-shirts. City Manager Richard Leins assisted us in putting this together.”

Deb Milone (Photo courtesy of Love Holds Life)
Deb Milone (Photo courtesy of Love Holds Life)

Among those on hand at City Hall was Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Deb Milone, who—due to her hard work on behalf of the charity’s annual December toy giveaway—was honored the next night at the Love Holds Life Spring Fling Fifth Anniversary Celebration Dinner.

Senato said there are several ways in which families in need contact his charity.

“We have a lot of referrals from the current families that we have helped, we also work with Montefiore Hospital with their social workers to assist them when they have cases in need of our assistance and then Facebook, believe it or not, has been one of our latest tools,” he said.

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Despite all the good works, occasional heartbreak is inevitable.

“The inspiration behind Love Holds Life was a boy named Michael Montana,” Senato said. “A friend of mine whose friend’s son had cancer asked me to start this and Michael, who lived in Patterson, was the first child we helped. Since then I have been super involved in this industry—at times tragically.”

Jamy Flory (Florys Mobil), Deb Malone Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce), Dwight Healey (Healey Brothers Automotive), Issa Issa (Croton Falls Shell Station) and Richard Senato (Founder/CFO of Love Holds Life) (Photo courtesy of Love Holds Life)
Jamy Flory (Flory’s Mobil), Deb Milone (Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce), Dwight Healey (Healey Brothers Automotive), Issa Issa (Croton Falls Shell Station) and Richard Senato (Love Holds Life) (Photo courtesy of Love Holds Life)

The tragic reality of childhood cancer of which Senato speaks was not lost on those in attendance at the following day’s fifth anniversary celebration dinner, where a young woman named Leticia was remembered. Leticia, Love Holds Life’s eighth recipient, passed away on June 13, 2016, after battling bone cancer. She was 16 years old.

“This organization wouldn’t exist without Richard,” said Milone. “His passion is so contagious and he lives and breathes this organization, sometimes to detriment of his own health. We need more people like Richard out there. I want to thank him for doing so much good for so many families.”

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