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East Rockaway Car Show to benefit Mended Little Hearts

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Every year, Richard Cittadino likes to raise money for a local children’s organization at his weekly East Rockaway car shows.

He first started hosting the fundraisers nine years ago, when he raised money for Mended Little Hearts —an organization that supports children, families and caregivers affected by congenital heart defects. Since then, he has raised more than $14,000 for organizations like the Little St. Nick Foundation, an East Rockaway-based organization that provides children in hospitals with anti-anxiety gift bags; Camp ANCHOR, a program for Town of Hempstead children and adults with special needs; and the East Rockaway Education Foundation, which raises funds for school programming.

But this year, Cittadino said, he wanted to return to his roots and once again raise money for Mended Little Hearts of Long Island, saying he has known co-founder Shannan Pearsall for several years.

“This is all Rich’s idea,” said Pearsall, a Lynbrook resident. “It’s a wonderful event that he does for the community, and the fact that he takes that and gives back is just a wonderful thing he does for the children.”

She and another Lynbrook mother, Kaitlyn Beleckas, founded the Long Island chapter of the national organization in 2011, after both of their children were born with heart problems. Pearsall’s son, Aidan, was born with half a heart and Beleckas’s daughter, Reagan, was born with multiple holes and congenital heart defects related to the left side of her heart.

The chapter they founded together provides support for families and children with these and similar heart conditions, and offers resources for these families.

More information about the organization will be available at the fundraiser on July 22 from 6 to 10 p.m., when residents have a chance to win raffles, listen to live music and see some classic cars.

“It really should be a fun night out,” Pearsall said.