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Sweating For A Cause

Three local moms will be competing in a challenging obstacle course this weekend in order to help better the lives of preschoolers with cancer. Danielle Taylor, Jeannine Del Pozzo and Stephanie Dean have signed up for the Civilian Military Combine Course in Brooklyn as Team YOLO (You Only Live Once), and will give their donations to the Morgan Center of Hicksville.

Taylor, owner and founder of Bish Bash Books, says she was looking for a charity to give to, and sought out local moms to see who would be interested in joining her. Longtime pal Del Pozzo, owner of Del Pozzo Foods, and Dean were all interested in doing the event, initially as a way to get in shape.

“I have always had a soft spot for anyone in the military and feel passionate about those who serve,” says Del Pozzo. “I also felt it would be a big accomplishment to know I could go through this.”

But as the date got closer, the three all agreed it made more sense to tie it into a charity and the Morgan Center was “the one.” Taylor says this is partly because it is local and partly because they know where their money will go.

“The donations go 100 percent toward Morgan Center tuitions and expenses,” she explains, so the children will directly benefit from their sweat and tears.

The Morgan Center is a nonprofit preschool for children undergoing chemotherapy that is free of charge to the children attending. These children are not able to go to mainstream preschools due to their weakened immune systems, so through private donations and fundraisers, these kids can have the preschool experience with paid tuition and other expenses. At the Morgan Center, extra precautions are taken to ensure the kids have limited exposure to germs by using special cleaning products, modifying activities and adhering to special codes of conduct. The center was founded in 2003 by parents of a cancer survivor who was denied the traditional preschool experience.

Taylor says each of the YOLO team members have each lost a loved one to cancer and know people who are currently battling the disease, so this cause really “won our hearts.”

“The charity really hit home for me and Danielle,” says Del Pozzo, who lost her father to cancer at a young age. “I feel like I am running for him in a way.”

“It’s my honor to do it,” Dean says, a mother of two young children. “I feel blessed that my kids are healthy...this is something I can do for the children and families that are going through such hard times.”

Bish Bash Books is a children’s book publisher that creates books for iPads, and has previously helped underprivileged schools and kids with special needs through an iPad give back program; Del Pozzo Foods has donated sauces and other specialty Italian foods to Long Island Harvest.

The team’s original goal was $500, but they doubled that amount in the first week. They raised it to $2,000, and Taylor says that the support they have received is motivating.

“I feel really good about it,” she says. “And I feel excited that we are doing it for a cause. We’re not looking to break any records here.”

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