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Late South Side High School alum Gina Giallombardo’s memory lives on at annual fundraiser

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About 100 community members gathered at Kasey’s Kitchen and Cocktails in Rockville Centre on March 9 to support the 10th annual Life For Gina fundraiser in memory of Gina Giallombardo.

A 2006 graduate of South Side High School, Giallombardo was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft-tissue pediatric cancer in 2009. Gina attended the first two fundraisers before she died from the disease in 2011 at age 22.

“It’s amazing how the Rockville Centre community, as well as all of our friends and family, continue to support us 10 years later,” said Gina’s sister Janice Davidson, noting how generous local businesses have been in donating raffle baskets. “It’s such a great feeling.”

Though Davidson said arranging last year’s June fundraiser was complicated after her father, Sal, died in February 2018, she noted, “This year … we tried to make it bigger, and it really was.”

Over the last decade, the Life for Gina Foundation has raised about $75,000. The $7,100 raised this year will go to a family with a 2-year-old being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the Gina Giallombardo Scholarship Fund at South Side High School.

The scholarship, which ranges from $1,000 to $1,500, is given each year to a student with financial needs who has been affected by cancer. It is often granted to a student looking to pursue a career in the medical field, Davidson said, noting that Gina had dreamed of being a nurse.

Gina’s friends and family are set to march in this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade in Rockville Centre on March 23, and Gina will be honored by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which each year holds a fundraiser on the same day during which people of all ages shave their heads and chop their ponytails. Davidson’s son, Brandon, a South Side senior, she said, will be shaving his head at the event in memory of Gina.