NFBHC President Melanie McEvoy Zuhoski holds the first Medal of Valor that Rob Stromski accepted on behalf of his late wife, Keri Lynn Stromski, an advocate for Stage IV breast cancer research. To his left are his daughter, Madison, and a friend of his wife, Sharon Tobin King, who gave remarks about her sorority sister. Photo: Jim Lennon, courtesy of North Fork Breast Health Coalition.

The North Fork Breast Health Coalition raised more than $80,000 at its annual Pink Pearl Gala earlier this month.

Over 300 guests attended the event at East Wind in Wading River, including many breast cancer survivors and patients.

The gift basket raffle during the event raised more than $21,000 specifically for the coalition’s Keri Lynn Stromski Stage IV Breast Cancer Research and Support Fund. The fund was created last year to honor the late Aquebogue Elementary School kindergarten teacher, who died of metastatic breast cancer last April.

The coalition also posthumously honored Stromski with its first Medal of Valor award in recognition of her advocacy for breast cancer research. Stromski’s husband, Rob Stromski, and two of her three children accepted the medal on her behalf.

Coalition President Melanie McEvoy Zuhoski and members of the NFBHC board celebrated immediate past President Susan Ruffini’s leadership contributions throughout her seven years of service. 

The Peconic River Sportsman’s Club was also honored with the community spirit award for its work in raising money for Long Island breast cancer organizations, including the NFBHC.

The North Fork Breast Health Coalition, founded in 1998 by Jamesport residents Antonio and Ann Cotten DeGrasse, provides financial assistance and services to local breast cancer patients. The group’s Helping Hands program offers $1,000 grants to patients coping with breast cancer. The grant can be used for any purpose. It also offers — free of charge — yoga, reflexology, massage, meditation, wigs and scarves.

The gala was named for Pearl Philindas, a past president of the North Fork Breast Health Coalition, who passed away in 2014.

Rob Stromski and children, Quinn, left, and Morgan, were on hand to accept the NFBHC’s first Medal of Valor, awarded posthumously to Keri Stromski. Photo: Jim Lennon, courtesy of North Fork Breast Health Coalition.
Joe Hocker of Peconic River Sportsman’s Club, left, NFBHC President/Event Chair Melanie McEvoy Zuhoski, NFBHC Secretary Annie Baulch, Ed Walden of PRSC. Photo: Jim Lennon, courtesy of North Fork Breast Health Coalition.
NFBHC President Melanie McEvoy Zuhoski and members of the NFBHC board celebrated Immediate Past President Susan Ruffini’s leadership and many contributions throughout her seven years of service. Her husband, Dennis, had presented her with flowers. Photo: Jim Lennon, courtesy of North Fork Breast Health Coalition.
Photo: Jim Lennon, courtesy of North Fork Breast Health Coalition.
Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and her husband Paul Carr. Photo: Jim Lennon, courtesy of North Fork Breast Health Coalition.
Melanie McEvoy Zuhoski and NFBHC Board Member Colleen Pennica with one of the dozens of gift baskets that were raffled off at the gala to benefit the NFBHC Keri Lynn Stromski Stage IV Breast Cancer Research and Support Fund. Photo: Jim Lennon, courtesy of North Fork Breast Health Coalition.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]