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Healing Headbands host ArtHeals Fundraiser

Healing Headbands

Non-profit organization, the Healing Headbands Project, hosted a fundraiser at the Tilles Center to help expand the Laugh Create Heal program. Funds raised at the ArtHeals benefit will be used to expand the Laugh Create Heal workshops to children’s hospitals, community organizations and schools throughout the United States. Local hospitals that currently are involved with the Laugh Create Heal program include Cohen’s Children Medical Center and Stony Brook Hospital.

The Healing Headbands Project combines the healing power of laughter and art to create and heal through special workshops. “When I was in Central American visiting my daughter in Guatemala, I went to a marketplace and saw the most beautiful madras headbands I ever saw in my life,” said Barbara Grapstein, founder of Healing Headbands Project. Grapstein researched, designed and created a comfortable headband made from a nylon/spandex material with a built in sun protector, perfect for patients undergoing treatments. “The headbands are cozy and comfy-feels like a hug,” said Grapstein

“My partner Barbara Grapstein and have dream of helping people creatively heal themselves with their art,” said Joanie Accolla, co-founder of Healing Headbands Project. The money will go towards certifying for Child Life Specialists for the Laugh Create Heal workshop. “Let us know if there’s someone in the community whether it’s your corporation, a hospital that you know, a college campus, we’ll do walks, drives, bike races and we’ll offer headbands and create with anybody,” said Grapstein.

Another important part of the program is the laugh element. Ericka Ruiz, a Laughter Yoga instructor, learned from Dr. Madan Kataria in India to help her patients with Alzheimer’s. “If you laugh, you bond with people,” said Ericka Ruiz. Laughter Yoga combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing. A popular mantra being chanted during Laughter Yoga is “HO HO HO HA HA HA .” This chant helps the body receive 3 times the amount of oxygen in half the amount of time. In only 5-10 minutes you will feel more energy from the oxygen. Laughter Yoga also helps create new connections in the brain by clapping palm to palm and finger to finger. “When you start doing exercises, stretches, getting more oxygen, your body is talking to your brain. You can change the dialogue by moving your body in a positive ways, even if your mind says no,” said Ruiz.

The ArtHeals auction featuring art created in the Laugh Create Heal workshop by fashion designer Donna Karan, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, and former New York Yankee Mariano Rivera. “All of these artists have gone through our workshop. It was a real game changer for them,” said Grapstein.

(Donna Karan)

(Mariano Rivera)

(Keith Richards)

For more information about the Healing Headbands and Laugh Create Heal, go to

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Craft Cares fights Hunger with Cans for a Can

Did you know that over 316,000 people on Long Island face hunger? That’s 1 in every 9 people. For the 4th consecutive year, Long Island Cares partnered with LI Craft Beer Week to help raise awareness and collect food donations for the Harry Chaplin Food Bank. “Long Island business people, entrepreneurs who developed breweries here on Long Island, are giving back, they understand what corporate social responsibility is. It’s been a great partnership and we look forward to continuing it,” said Paul Pachter, Chief Executive Officer for Long Island Cares.

Twenty-four craft breweries across Long Island teamed up to create a collaboration brew, that beer enthusiasts can receive when they then donate 3 cans of food for a can of Craft Cares Bi-Coastal IPA, all benefitting Long Island Cares. “The Long Island community gives back to us every day we need to give back to them at least once a year, that’s what this is all about,” said BrickHouse Brewery’s Brewmaster, Paul Komsic.

All the food collected goes to a distribution center in Hauppauge where its sorted and packed into the appropriate categories and delivered to 600 agencies throughout Nassau and Suffolk County. “We’re in need of food all year around, but especially the spring and summer when school isn’t in session, the need for food increases because children are no longer getting free lunch at school,” said Billy Gonyou from Long Island Cares.

Last year, Craft Cares collected over 3,400 pounds of food donations, this year, the goal is to reach over 5,000 pounds. 5,000 pounds of food equals about 4,200 meals for families on Long Island. “Kids are going to be fed this summer,” said Pachter.

Long Island Craft Beer Week

“It’s been the first year Long Island Cares has been through the entire process of making the beer, canning it and labeling it. I’m more into craft beer than ever. I want to check out all these great places and breweries supporting us,” said Gonyou.

If you’re not into beer and want to get involved with Long Island Cares, you can volunteer at one of Long Island Cares four locations, work a special event, help out in the warehouse, write a check, or host food drive/pet food drive. “There are lots of opportunity for Long Islanders to get involved and we welcome people to visit us,” said Pachter.

For more information about Cans for a Can and other Long Island Craft Beer events go to


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Heart Rock Gala

Heart Rock Gala

Long Island men and women from the medical and corporate community, wore their red hot gala attire for the The American Heart Association’s 55th Annual Heart & Stroke Ball at The Garden City Hotel. The Heart Rock Gala is an event that raises money for life-saving research and prevention for cardiovascular diseases and stroke in the community as well as across the country. Attendees got to enjoy a cocktail hour, dinner, live music, dancing and a silent auction where they could bid on special experiences and memorabilia, all benefitting the American Heart Association.

The American Heart Association slogan is Life if Why. Long Island Heart Ball Chair, Renee Pope, shared her reason why the Heart Rock Gala is meaningful to her. “I’m here in honor of my mom who struggled with heart disease for 7 years and it was a long road, she’s in a better place, but I’m here for her and my family,” said Pope. She also stressed the importance of  knowing the signs of a heart attack since women experience different symptoms than men. Women should not dismiss little symptoms because they can truly be signs of something more serious. “With heart disease being the number 1 killer of women, we have to take note of these signs, it’s very critical,” said Pope.

The Heart Rock Gala recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of individuals and companies in the area of cardiovascular science and leadership. This year Kimon Bekelis, MD, a neurosurgeon with subspecialty training in minimally invasive endovascular neurosurgery and Dr. Jorge L. Gardyn, M.D., F.A.C.P., a Board-Certified Internist specializing in Occupational and Adult Medicine were honored. “It’s the first time in 55 years that the American Heart Association and Stroke Ball honored someone in the neuroscience field,” said Kimon Bekelis, MD.

Bekelis started a program on Long Island for stroke and brain aneurysm patients at Good Samaritan Hospital and Catholic Health Services of Long Island. Catheters are being threaded through an artery in the groin up to the brain to remove blood clots up to 24 hours after a stroke. Prior to this the only option was to give TPA, a clot removing drug 3 to 4 and a half hours after a stroke. Another new innovative treatment is aneurysms can be treated without opening the skull. “These patients were suffering from horrible diseases and couldn’t get the care they needed up until 7 months ago. We are privileged to offer that here on Long Island,” said Bekelis.

The Emcee for the Heart Rock Gala was WBAB’s Classic Rock DJ Fingers. “This is a night of miracles, there are people here who survived two or three heart attacks, triple bypass surgery, to be around all that goodness is very inspiring,” said Fingers. When Fingers was asked to sum up the evening with one song, he said The Heart of Rock and Roll by Huey Lewis, “now the old boy may be barely breathing, but the heart of rock and roll, heart of rock and roll is still beating.”