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Photos: ECHO gala 2023 celebrates new record of $4.2 million in grants collected for children in need

Photos: ECHO gala 2023 celebrates new record of $4.2 million in grants collected for children in need

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Revelers who converged upon the Addison Park Friday evening all shared the same common denominator: A passion and commitment to support the Emergency Children’s Help Organization (ECHO).

The Charleston-based organization that provides financial assistance to children experiencing medical emergencies was founded by Sebastian Angelico in 2008, when a vision was born from his desire to help children lacking the necessary resources to receive proper medical assistance during a medical crisis.

Some 650 guests waxed ecstatic over ECHO’s “Making a Difference, One Child at a Time Gala,” the glamour-laden evening staged in Aberdeen, N.J. that sparkled like one of Hollywood’s finest red-carpet affairs.

ECHO is headed by Angelico, along with a dynamic group of executive board members who have pledged their support to families of seriously ill children, who, due to financial burden, might possibly be denied proper health care.


Honored for their service to the community and their commitment to ECHO were Vincent Theurer Jr. and Nicholas and Janine Ponzio.

Recognized with “The Frank Fiumefreddo Above and Beyond Memorial Award” was Joan Perretti Discenza, a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

Joseph S. DelDuca received the “Emerging Leader in Philanthropy Award.”

Christine Zall was presented with “The Reflections of Kindness Award.”

Vincent Panariello garnered “The Volunteer of the Year Award.”


After acknowledging the presence of Borough President Vito Fossella and his wife, Mary Pat, other dignitaries, sponsors and friends, Angelico noted:

“We are thrilled to be hosting over 600 people, once again, for this year’s ‘ECHO Gala, Making a Difference, One Child at a Time.’ The outpouring of generosity from our community never ceases to amaze me. It is a blessing that enables ECHO to continue fulfilling its mission.”

Along with Angelico, ECHO is comprised of dedicated individuals whose sole purpose is to brighten a family’s path during a difficult journey.

“On behalf of our Board of Directors and staff, ECHO would like to thank every person who has given their time and resources to our cause, said Pasquale Loporcaro, executive director of ECHO. “This year, we will set a new record for grants awarded to children in need, bringing our total grants to over $4.2 million since our inception … truly a miracle!”

As the evening progressed, Jaya Karnani, the mother of young Kaih Papaiya, a child who experienced a medical emergency, delivered a heartfelt testimonial about her daughter’s plight.

“My daughter was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma,” she said. “ECHO walked with me and my daughter, who has a tumor in the jaw. They are not only making a difference for a child, but for their caregivers as well.”

Angelico continued: “Our hope is that our assistance will make a difference to improve their current circumstances, both financially and spiritually.”


And as is customary, community leader Terry Tarangelo opened the program with her melodious rendition of “God Bless America.”


Joan Perretti Discenza has been a board member of ECHO for the past 10 years. She has served on the Executive Committee and is the co-chairwoman of the Journal Committee, explained Angelico. “She consistently demonstrates a remarkable level of commitment and generosity to our organization. She truly goes ‘above and beyond’ in everything she does.”


“The Theurer family and Approved Oil are all dedicated supporters of ECHO,” Angelico continued. “Vincent’s father, Vincent Sr., has served as a member of ECHO’s Board of Directors since 2019. And the Theurer family has been extremely generous throughout the years and is always willing to help.”


Nicholas and Janine Ponzio have been a part of the ECHO family since its inception.

Angelico explained that Mr. Ponzio is a member of ECHO’s Board of Directors and has been influential in ECHO’s community outreach. “ECHO can always count on Janine and Nick to participate in any of our events and raffles along with raising awareness for our cause,” he said.


“Christine has always been generous and willing to volunteer her services to ECHO over the years,’’ he said. “She has been a long-time member of our ECHO family.”


“Vincent has been assisting ECHO ‘behind the scenes’ for all our events for many years,’’ Angelico said. “‘Vinny P’ is an asset to the ECHO family. And we thank him for his never-ending kindness.


“Lastly, but certainly not least,” continued Angelico, is ECHO’s ‘Emerging Leader in Philanthropy Award.’’’

The award was created upon ECHO’s inception in order to honor a young person who clearly understands the concept of philanthropy at an early age.

“This year’s recipient is my grandson, Joseph S. DelDuca,’’ he said. “Joseph has volunteered his services toward many of ECHO initiatives, including, but not limited to, working at our golf outing and volunteering in our offices. I am sure Joseph will be an essential part of ECHO for many years to come.”