Anthony Bevilacqua takes pride in teaching his children Gabriella, 6, and Anthony Jr., 2, about the importance of helping others.
He hosted his first fundraiser at his East Meadow gym, AB Fitness Center, last year in honor of National Heart Month. Dubbed the Great American Heart Charity Workout, the fitness center hosted 30-minute workout sessions at $50 each and raised a total of $4,000 that they donated to the American Heart Association.
In a twist of fate, Gabriella’s first-grade class at McVey Elementary School is hosting its own fundraiser for the same cause this year. As of press time on Tuesday, the school has raised $9,933 of its $20,000 goal on its fundraising page at https://bit.ly/2P5iyiS. The school will be collecting donations through March 9.
Bevilacqua said he had a “light-bulb” parenting moment when Gabriella came home with a donation flyer and saw the perfect opportunity to help his daughter and her classmates with their fundraising mission.
AB Fitness Center is hosting its second charity workout on Feb. 22 with two different sessions, one at 11 a.m. and another at 11:30 a.m. The minimum donation to participate is $20 and all proceeds go to the American Heart Association. To reserve a spot, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event will include rotating stations, each a different high-intensity, full-body cardiovascular exercise.
“People have been reaching out like crazy,” Bevilacqua said. “It’s nice to see that they share in our mission to help out the community.”
“I’m excited because people could get better if we donate money to them,” Gabriella said.
The AHA supports research projects that seek more affective treatments, trains emergency service officials in cardiovascular care and teaches 22 million people Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation each year. According to its website, the organization has helped decrease the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease by 15 percent and stroke by roughly 14 percent over the past two years.
The AHA also noted that in 2017, roughly 25 percent of adults did not engage in leisure-time physical activity.
“Heart disease is the number one killer in America, but it’s preventable through being healthy,” Bevilacqua said. “If you move more, you feel better inside and outside. We weren’t designed to sit behind a desk all day.”
Just as he teaches them about the importance of charity, Bevilacqua also educates his children about proper exercise and nutrition. Speaking to his daughter, he said, “Gab, what do we always tell people? Eat your . . . ” and she finished his sentence.
The Bevilacqua’s routinely work out as a family by playing in the park, riding bikes and walking their dogs, a German shepherd named Sadie and two Yorkshire terriers, Bella and Romeo.
After their fourth dog, Rocky, died in November, at age 9, Bevilacqua took the opportunity to give back to his community in his dog’s memory. He and his wife Jennifer decided to collect supplies for local animals shelters with the help of their clients.
They did not expect to fill nine cars with donations that they then donated to the town animal shelter and Last Hope Inc. Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation, both in Wantagh, and Bobbi and the Strays animal shelter in Freeport.
It became the important lesson Bevilacqua taught to his children about charity. “We explained to my daughter that sometimes life situations are out of your control and that the only thing we can control is our actions,” he said.