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Displaying items by tag: cancer

SCHUYLERVILLE – Continuing the trend of raising money to fight cancer last weekend, the Schuylerville Youth Lacrosse team hosted a benefit shootout to raise money for the family of community member Mike Podkladek, who is currently in treatment for a brain tumor. The event was held at Schuyler Park on May 13, and the team estimates that anywhere from 700 to 1,000 people were in attendance. In all, over $8,000 was raised for the Podkladek family.

Mike Podkladek, along with wife Beth, is a member of the Schuylerville community and the parent of three – Jordan, Callie, and Braden. In the past, he has frequently volunteered in his children’s sports, including softball, football, hockey, and lacrosse. In November of 2016, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required surgery. After having his initial tumor removed, pathology reports came back which said that he had Grade 4 Glioblastoma, an untreatable cancerous brain tumor. He has since been fortunate enough to be entered into a clinical trial at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City, where he and his wife travel to for treatments every other Tuesday.

The event saw 14 5-6 grade youth lacrosse teams from across the area in attendance. During the scheduling meeting back in March, Schuylerville coach Wayne Durr asked the others teams if they would be willing to attend the event. Upon hearing that it would be a benefit, many local programs cancelled their round robins in order to attend. Teams from Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills, Columbia, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Saratoga Springs, Scotia, and Stillwater made it to the event. Each team competed in three games and took part in a “Fastest Shot” competition.

The Podkladek family is still accepting donations from the public through a GoFundMe page. Any readers interested in donating to the family should go to www.gofundme.com/mike-podkladek-family-support-fund

Published in Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS – This year’s senior game carried extra importance for the Saratoga Varsity baseball team.

In addition to honoring the team’s senior players, the May 13 non-league game against Schuylerville was also used to raise money for cancer research. To this end, the team raised money in a number of ways, including selling t-shirts. Saratoga Coach Andy Cuthbertson decided that the money should be raised in the name of Tracy Hogben, a long-time Saratoga Springs City School District substitute teacher, recent full-time employee at Lake Avenue Elementary, and parent of five children currently enrolled in the district alongside her husband, Gordon. Three of their children – Gordon Jr., Harrison, and Griffin – play baseball for Saratoga.

On Oct. 18 of last year, Hogben suffered a seizure at home, which led to her diagnosis on Oct. 25 of a Right Frontal Lobe Primary Brain Tumor. After 13 days at Albany Medical Center and a craniotomy, Hogben was found to have an Oligodendreglioma, a Grade 2 primary brain tumor.

Hogben attended the benefit game and threw out the first pitch in front of around 500 people in attendance. Both the Saratoga Springs and Schuylerville communities have taken part in raising money, and have, as of May 16, raised $4,989. Donations are still being collected, and once collection is finished, the money will be donated to the Albany Medical Center Brain Tumor Research Fund.

“The community did a fantastic job of stepping up to support one of our own families in need,” Robin Chudy said. “The money raised will be a donation to Albany Medical Center as it will provide resources to continue to look for possible cures for cancer.”

According to Chudy, many parents got involved by setting up food tables for the game, as well as by creating a program for the game that included pages dedicated to the Hogben family, as well as pages for all seven senior players. Far from just working towards a noble cause, it was a great day all around for the Blue Streaks as they beat Schuylerville 6-0.

Al photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.


Published in Sports
Friday, 04 November 2016 12:02

Comics Touched by Cancer Give Back

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The first time comedian Jodi Weiner considered holding a cancer fundraiser made up of comedic acts was not long after she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at the Saratoga Hospital’s Mollie Wilmot Radiation Oncology Center in 2013. In the midst of her shock and distress, she realized she had just suddenly joined a community of patients and survivors that were some of the kindest and most courageous people she had ever met. She wanted to give back, and give back with laughter and funds.

“The women and men who walk in there [Molly Wilmot Center] are so sweet, even though they are going through the worst time in their life,” said Weiner. “You never meet nicer people than walking into a cancer center, and they shouldn’t be. I’m not.”

At the time, Weiner underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and was too sick to follow through on her wish, but not long after becoming a survivor, she was again diagnosed with cancer.

“It was devastating that first time. You don’t know, you don’t understand,” said Weiner. “The cancer takes control, you have no control and that’s the worst way to feel. This summer I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which wasn’t as bad because I had surgery and radiation. I will have chemo pills for five years, but those haven’t started yet. Five years. Brutal. But this time, I said, I’m going to do something.”

Weiner felt lucky because she and her husband, comedian Vinnie Mark, belong to a close-knit community that spreads across the country – comics. Between her health benefits and the generous support of some of the biggest names in the industry, her husband was able to leave the road and stay with Weiner throughout her treatment.

“People have been very, very good to me. Some major stars, who want to remain anonymous, were very generous,” said Weiner, “but even the guys who only make fifty bucks a show sent fifty bucks. I’ve been very, very lucky. If my life ended tomorrow I could say I had a full life.”

Weiner’s gratitude is overflowing, not only for her extended professional family, but close to home as well. “Remember, the family members are affected as much as the person who has cancer. I have a husband who is really supportive, by my side, takes me to treatment every day, the most supportive man I’ve ever met in my life,” said Weiner. This December, they will have been married 21 years. They renewed their vows in Vegas the same year she was initially diagnosed.

“But some people don’t have that,” said Weiner. “They are alone or their family doesn’t help them. I live in West Fort Ann, and had to be here every day for 33 days for treatment. Some people live right around the corner, but not everybody does.”

Saratoga Hospital has a Cancer Patient Fund to help cover expenses that insurance doesn’t, such as transportation, wigs, dietary supplements, even food. To help raise money so that fund can help as many people as possible, Weiner, Mark, and fellow comedians Chris Monty and special guest Mike Speirs will appear in “Comics Care: Comedians Touched by Cancer Give Back” on Thursday, November 10 at the Embassy Suites in Saratoga Springs. Doors open at 7 p.m. for 8 p.m. show time. Reservations are $25 per person. Proceeds from the event, including an on-site raffle, will benefit Saratoga Hospital’s Cancer Patient Fund.

“The cancer community – our patients, friends and family, and cancer survivors – is an incredibly close group of people, supporting and encouraging each other and programs like our Cancer Patient Fund,” said Jennifer Baldwin, LMSW, OSW-C and oncology social worker at Saratoga Hospital’s Mollie Wilmot Radiation Oncology Center. “To use comedy as a bridge to share and tell personal stories about their experiences with cancer is brave. We truly appreciate Jodi and Vinnie and Chris and Mike volunteering their talent to entertain, as well as raise awareness and funding for our program. They’re pretty special people.”

The three comedians have extensive experience performing on TV (Weiner on ABC’s “The View” and Comedy Central, Mark on Letterman and VH1, Monty on HBO’s “Vinyl”), in film (Monty in “Paul Blart Mall Cop 2”), and live (both Weiner and Mark on multiple USO tours and at The Borgata Casino).

“And we’re so funny! We’re actually funny!” joked Weiner. “This is a fundraiser for a good reason. I’m funny, Vinny’s funny, Chris is funny and my friend Mike Speirs jumped on board and he’s funny as well.”

Mark said he was always interested in magic as a kid, so he auditioned in 1981 for the Long Island Laughter Company. “I got lucky enough to get cast with Rosie O’Donnell, Bob Nelson and Eddie Murphy,” said Mark. “I was just 18 or 19, so young and too stupid to be nervous. We did a live show of improv and sketches every Monday night.”

Mark had owned the Saratoga Comedy Club, which was located not far from the Embassy Suites, which is donating the space and food and beverages for the event. Mark thought it would be nice to perform so close to the venue where he and Weiner had performed before along with stars like J.J. Walker from the television series “Good Times” and Colin Quinn from Saturday Night Live.

“The View I was on twice,” said Weiner. “They treated me so well, such nice people, I loved it. I saw Barbara Walters, Billy Zane and Susan Lucci. She is such a tiny little thing, like a ballerina doll. I’m 5 foot 3 inches, and she was up to my belly button.”

Chris Monty met Vinnie through the comedy circuit, and they’ve been close friends for 15 years. “In the early 90’s, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Monty. “She opted to have a single mastectomy and was cancer free, and within three years her sisters got breast cancer. They beat it and decided to raise money to beat it, so since then I do a comedy show every year for the Three STROHM Sisters Family Foundation.”

Then, in the summer of 2012, Monty’s mother was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer. “My mother is tough as anything,” said Monty. “She did aggressive chemo and she fought tooth and nail to her last breath. But it was a very aggressive cancer. She passed on January 4 of 2013. Vinnie called me, it was about the same time that Jodi had cancer, and we were both crying on the phone together.”

Monty said that when Mark called to ask him to participate in this fundraiser, he was immediately on board. “If I’m available, I will always make time to give back to any kind of cancer organization,” said Monty. “Laughter is the best medicine, even when my mother was sick, I try to bring smiles to people’s faces.”

Dinner and pre-show cocktails will be available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Diamond Club Grill at the Embassy Suites hotel. For more information or to register for “Comics Care,” visit www.saratogahospital.org or call 518-583-8340.

Published in News
Friday, 11 April 2014 09:39

Kelvin’s Journey

- To Speak At Skidmore Next Monday Evening


“ ‘Cause there'll be hard times, 

Lord those hard times -

Who knows better than I?”

-- Ray Charles


SARATOGA SPRINGS – He was dealt a losing hand from the beginning. 


Then, for a long time, by his own admission, he made it a lot worse. 


Kelvin Davis doesn’t shrink from his past, which is not a pretty picture. Scarce, stolen moments of happiness, perhaps, spread too thin over five decades of hell.  


Born in Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant specifically, with documented abuse throughout his formative years. But on February 15, 1987 at age 24, it got worse for Kelvin. 


A whole lot worse. 


The facts are not in dispute, by Kelvin or anyone else. He was convicted of first-degree manslaughter. An official NY Appellate Court record read as follows:


In the early morning hours of February 15, 1987, two private security guards were summoned to an apartment at the Martinique Hotel by residents complaining of a loud argument between defendant and his wife. One of the guards argued and grappled with defendant, at one point holding him against the floor in an attempt to calm defendant down. After defendant was released, and as the guards were leaving, defendant grabbed a sawed-off shotgun which he kept in his apartment and, at close range, shot and killed the security guard, who in defendant’s mind had “disrespected” him.


Defendant does not challenge his guilt of either manslaughter or possession of a weapon.


-Source: 174 A.D.2d 369 (1991) -The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Kelvin Davis, Also Known as Kelvin Bowens, Appellant Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, First Department.


It is important to note that Kelvin was acquitted on the more serious charge of second-degree murder. 


But how much does your life have to sink where you can take solace in that kind of hair-splitting? 


And so Kelvin went down. Down hard.  


He entered the ‘land of no hope’ – no other way to put it. His first and only foray into the penal system led him to be incarcerated in Ossining (Sing Sing), Attica and a three-year solitary confinement stretch at Elmira. One admittedly horrific crime led to one squandered lifetime. 


When he emerged from prison, Kelvin was nearly 50 years old, and had spent more than half his life in such places. 


He has a trailer waiting for him in Greenfield Center that his son provided, but as part of his many parole conditions, (which can extend as far as 2030), Kelvin has to live at Shelters of Saratoga (SOS), hold down gainful employment and a host of other conditions. 


He credits his SOS caseworker, Ginny Stoliker, with helping him to find a job at Quad Graphics in just eight days, and Kathleen DiCarlo, an instructor at John Paolo’s Beauty Institute with taking an interest in him. Kelvin expects to receive his cosmetologist license before Labor Day. 


So far, so good as far as that goes. What is not required by parole, but comes from inside Kelvin Davis’ spirit is the desire to share his journey – but he’s no role model, and intends to say so. “I have 24 years of reasoning,” he said, “why you don’t make decisions like I did on February 15, 1987.” 


Kelvin will share and expand that message at a special lecture at Skidmore College’s Emerson Auditorium on Monday, April 14 at 6 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public. 


He has many stories of relentless horror, of inhumanity and pain. He shared some vignettes that were raw, gritty and terrifying. It would be an injustice to try and replicate them in print. Better to hear them directly. He does promise that everyone will “…laugh a bit, weep a bit more, but learn a lot.”


In our visit, he called it ‘paying it forward,’ which is fairly popular jargon these days, but subject to a variety of meanings. I asked him for some amplification as to what that plainly meant to him. 


He stared out the window. Looking through slats that cast a horizontal shadow, left to right across his face in the dwindling sunlight. 


For decades, that shadow was vertical, from bars that extended up and down. Except with a lot less sunlight and much darker shadows. “For me, it’s the only way I know to give back.” Kelvin said.


He looked straight at me and said, “I want to share the things I’ve learned in the hope that somebody will not have to go through what I did.”


“If I can get even one person to listen, then for me it will be mission accomplished.”


Kelvin Davis

6 p.m. Monday, April 14

Emerson Auditorium

Skidmore College

Presented by Bene-Faction and Skidmo’ Daily


Refreshments provided by Esperanto

Published in News


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