Remembering Allison Florio: Fundraiser Benefits United Hospice of Rockland

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Photo credit Laurie MazzucaStudents at A. MacArthur Barr Middle School rallied their community for teacher Laurie Mazzuca last week during an emotional fundraiser to celebrate the life of Mazzuca’s daughter, Allison Florio.

The event was part of students’ weeklong show of love for Mazzuca in memory of Florio, who fought a courageous battle with colon cancer, sadly passing on March 10, 2011. Knowing November 12 (Allison’s birthday) would be difficult for their teacher, students helped arrange a fundraiser to benefit United Hospice of Rockland.

Debbie Zenner was one of three UHR nurses who cared for Florio when she went on hospice February 23, 2011.

Florio's grandmother, Laurie Mazzuca, Debbie Zenner, brother
Florio’s grandmother, Laurie Mazzuca, Debbie Zenner, brother

“It’s a privilege to be invited into people’s homes and care for their loved ones,” Zenner said. ““Life can be so challenging, so that I hope to make the end of their lives more comfortable and peaceful.”

When Mazzuca asked her to please attend the fundraiser, Zenner said, “I knew I would be there for her. Allison was a bright, beautiful young woman with a dynamic spirit who loved her family. I felt a connection between us as soon as we met.”

“Hospice touches everyone’s life and plays an important role in the community,” UHR Director of Marketing and Public Relations Donna Branca said. “It’s something you can’t fully explain unless you experience it, but the caring support and relationships that develop are so inspiring.”

Middle school teacher Kerry Taylor and students
Middle school teacher Kerry Taylor and students

During the week — and at the parent-teacher conference that night — students sold bracelets of blue, which was Allison’s favorite color, redeemable the next day (November 13) for a specially-created “Allison Florio” frappuccino, a cotton candy drink, at Starbucks in Nanuet Plaza. The drink was also available for purchase.

Starbucks also donated baskets for a raffle to benefit United Hospice of Rockland “which, thank God for them, helped us get through this,” Mazzuca told students, faculty, friends and family.
Everyone sang “happy birthday” to Allison, after which students hugged their teacher and offering support.

“Middle school students and staff wore her favorite color blue to show how special she was,” teacher Kerry Taylor said. Rockland Bakery and other local bakeries contributed edibles and will be noted at the next PTA meeting.

StarbucksMazzuca’s husband, middle school Director of Athletics Frank Mazzuca, spoke for her at the lunchtime ceremony that included a birthday cake for Allison and a bake sale.

Allison’s mom and grandmother won an angel-naming contest; the pin from Carla’s Angel Pins is named after Allison Florio.

“What a success! So glad you were a part of it. As emotional as it was it really made me feel that we gave Allison the celebration she so deserves,” Mazzuca told Branca via email the next day. “You could just feel the love from everyone. Thanks again!”

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