By Amelia Sack
The Long Island Fight for Charity returned Sept. 15 for the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic erupted in March 2020. Cheering and laughter filled the room as attendees enjoyed an evening full of food, conversation and, of course, the main event — boxing.
A news release on the event read, “The Long Island Fight for Charity, the nation’s only all-volunteer charity boxing event, features local volunteer business people getting in the ring to Fight for Charity. Usually, more than 1,200 fans come to support their favorite boxers, network and take in the excitement. Over 30 local restaurants provide food and beverages for the event.”
The Long Island Fight for Charity began in 2002, when one of the founders, Jeff Cohen, had the idea to create an event where people would get in the ring to raise money for local organizations on the Island. Since its founding, the event has become a highly anticipated evening for many people. There have been over 400 volunteer boxers, and $1.7 million has been raised to date. This year, the Hilton Hotel in Melville hosted the event.
“Amazing. It’s my first boxing match ever,” said Tom “Gibby” Gibson, of Glen Cove. Gibson beamed with pride and excitement as he stepped out of the ring. He founded New York-based Interchange Business Organization, specializing in business development and networking, and as a first-time boxer, he said he was thrilled to have raised more than $15,000 for charity.
One of the organizations that the Long Island Fight for Charity benefits is Eden II. This nationally recognized non-profit serves more than 500 people in New York City and on Long Island. The organization supports people with autism through service and science so they can reach their full potential. Its programs provide a variety of services using the evidence-based principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to treat the delays and challenges associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
“We have students from the [Department of Education] all the way out to the Hamptons. Our programs are very individualized,” said Lauren Cottone, of Seaford. Cottone teaches at the Genesis school, one of Eden II’s programs in East Meadow. She was at the event to represent her school and sell 50/50 raffle tickets. She said she was excited to attend the event for the first time, particularly knowing that it benefits her school.
In addition to benefitting local charities, the event also gives local restaurants the opportunity to showcase their offerings. Over 20 local restaurants and businesses served their fare to hungry attendees. There was a wide range of foods, with everything from salads to Chinese cuisine.
Kevin Kronrad was there representing his family’s ice cream business, the Long Island Creamery, which makes artisan gelatos and ice cream in small batches.
”We’re located in 50 to 60 different stores across Long Island,” Kronrad said.
Much like Fight for Charity, the gelato and ice cream come with a charitable twist: All profits raised from sale of the dessert are donated to cancer research. Kronrad said his family’s business has been at the event for almost 10 years, adding that he was happy to see it back in full swing after the pandemic.
While there were no real winners since the event was for charity, fans, patrons and food vendors alike enjoyed the event for a great cause. No doubt, lots of fun was had at the return of Long Island Fight for Charity.