Anyone who was fortunate enough to attend the fundraiser last Thursday night for Steven Morales, the Far Rockaway six year old who is fighting brainstem cancer, had to come away with their spirits lifted and their hearts full of good will. Although the purpose of the fundraiser was to give something to Steven in the way of raising some of the needed funds for his experimental cancer treatment, those who made their donations were the real benefactors of the evening.
There was no rhyme or reason to the assemblage who gathered at The Beach Club. The crowd, and it was a crowd, was made up inexplicably of entire families from Rockaway Beach, single folks from Broad Channel, a lacrosse team from Far Rockaway, members of civic groups, and more than a dozen young businessmen from Neponsit. Nobody planned the very diverse mix of individuals who gathered to make Steven’s family’s load a little lighter. They just appeared. Tables were unassigned and everyone just found a seat. They all ate together, and danced together, and conversed as if they had known each other forever. The Morales family became Rockaway’s family, if only for the evening. There was no sadness, no maudlin speeches, in fact, the mood of the evening was laughter and joy and togetherness.
The waitresses and servers worked as volunteers for the evening. Steven and Kenny Good, as always, were the quietly giving, community-spirited merchants that they always are. The entire Beach Club staff and customers for the evening (including those in the dining room and bar, not attending the fundraiser) were very much part of Steven’s gang. Raffle ticket sales, in addition to the paid reservations, raised money far in excess of what was anticipated.
Frank, Steven’s dad, remarked to everyone that his son smiled all night long, something that hasn’t happened much in the recent past. Steven had a lot to smile about. His latest MRI shows that his tumor is stable. He heads off to Houston next week for a second round of treatment that seems to be heading off the progression of the rare disease. And, he has a whole new group of friends, his Rockaway family - the crowd that came out last week to give of themselves and received a special gift in the process - Steven’s blessing – a deep down good feeling that being part of Thursday night’s gathering mattered in so many ways.