2020 Virtual Gala

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 7:00pm

Join Us virtually for an uplifting evening and bring hope to our critically-ill children and their families!

Honoring Nancy Mariano
Friends of Karen Regional Director,
beloved for her lifelong dedication to improving the lives of others

Hosted by John Berman
CNN co-anchor “New Day” with Alisyn Camerota

Gala starts in:

Registration, Sponsorship & Journal Ads

Support Friends of Karen

Friends of Karen brings help and hope to New York Tri-State area children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, and their families.  Your generosity will relieve severe financial hardships families face to cover their child’s medical bills, travel costs to hospitals for treatment, essentials like housing, food and childcare made more difficult due to illness-related job loss, sibling support and other vital needs.

As a partner in this life-changing work, you ensure that families will have the guidance and support of skilled Friends of Karen social workers who help families overwhelmed with caring for their ill child, even more complicated now by the COVID-19 pandemic.

No family should face their child’s heartbreaking illness alone. Thanks to you, they will have Friends of Karen by their side. Your commitment and kindness gives our children and families hope!


of our $500,000 goal


Donate Now

Our mission is to provide emotional, financial and advocacy support for children with a life-threatening illness and their families in order to help keep them stable, functioning, and able to cope.

We started in 1978 with one family; one child, Karen MacInnes; and one inspired woman, Sheila Petersen. Since then, we have assisted nearly 17,000 children and their families.

Learn More About Friends of Karen



Honoring Nancy Mariano

Friends of Karen Director of Corporate Partnership and Long Island Regional Director

Nancy joined Friends of Karen (FoK) in 2001 after spending 26 years with Special Olympics Suffolk County – first as a volunteer and then sixteen years as their first Executive Director.  Under her direction, Special Olympics grew to become the largest community based program in the country with over 10,000 volunteers serving over 3,500 athletes with developmental disabilities.

Prior to opening a Long Island office with Nancy at the helm, a third of FoK families were living in Long Island (LI) and Queens.  She immediately created an Advisory Board made up of business leaders and health professionals from across the island.  The LI Advisory Board, still going strong, has served as the model for the New York City Advisory Board which also assists raising funds and awareness for FOK in Manhattan and the boroughs.

Volunteers were engaged from the beginning and fundraising, although difficult in the aftermath of 9/11, began in earnest.  Along the way, Nancy has led the efforts on LI to raise funds and awareness.  Major events, including golf outings and galas, were held annually.  In addition, FOK fields the largest “charity team” at the Long Island Marathon each year.  There are dozens of local community events annually engaging hundreds of volunteers and donors.

Our Sponsors

Gold Sponsor
Silver Sponsors

Sharon and Jonas Weiner

Bronze Sponsors

Palma Patti and Perry Cacace

J and Jody Durst

Leslie and Stephen Jerome

The Kurzrok Family

Stacy and Don Rosenberg

Benefactor Sponsors

Pamela and John Hervey

Joan and Fred Lowenfels

Lois and Paul Smadbeck

Friend Sponsors

Linda Amper

Wanda and Tony Cacace

Peter and Rose Ann Chieco

Roberta and Elliot Clark

Susan Strawgate Code and Howard Code

Susan and Jim Downes

Drew Evans and Laura Salerno Evans

Judy Factor and Bob Wechsler

Kristin and Michael Hadgis

Bill and Barbara Hilson

Suzanne and Sean Millette

Harriet and Ronald Papa

Paul and Angela Salerno

Lydia and Neil Singer