Saturday, November 21, 2009

Forget-Me-Not Gala

Tonight I attended the Alzheimer's Foundation of Staten Island's 28th Annual Forget-Me-Not Gala. It was held at The Renaissance Banquet Hall on Staten Island. It was a wonderful event that honored many volunteers who support and work with the Alzheimer's Foundation. The Alzheimer's Foundation of Staten Island is a privately funded voluntary health organization dedicated to the research for the prevention, cure and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. The organization also provides support and assistance to afflicted patients and their families. Congratulations to all the honorees especially Ron Victorio (President of the Staten Island Rotary and sponsor for the Miss Richmond County Scholarship Program).

With Gladys Schweiger, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's

With Ron Victorio

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Great American Smokeout

Today I made my first appearance as Miss Richmond County! What a great way to start my year with a new title by promoting my platform. According to the American Cancer Society, November is Stop Smoking month. As many of you know, my platform T.E.A.C.H. (Tobacco Education Awareness for Children's Health) focuses on preventing children from starting to smoke. I was able to incorporate my platform with the American Cancer Society's annual event, The Great American Smokeout.

The Great American Smokeout takes place every year on the third Thursday of November. It is a day that challenges people to stop using tobacco and helps make them aware of the many tools they can use to quit. Research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit when they have some means of support, such as:
  • nicotine replacement products
  • counseling
  • stop-smoking groups
  • telephone smoking cessation hotlines
  • prescription medicine to lessen cravings
  • guide books
  • encouragement and support from friends and family members

With Elliot Spiro

I spent my day at Silver Lake Specialized Care Center on Staten Island. I distributed my T.E.A.C.H. brochures to staff, residents, and family members. I had the opportunity to speak to Elliot Spiro, Respiratory Director at Silver Lake Specialized Care Center. We talked about how smoking can affect patients who are on ventilators (a ventilator is a device used for maintaining artificial respiration). He said that "many smokers end up on ventilators because their lungs are so damaged that they can no longer breathe on their own." Elliot Spiro demonstrated how anyone can experience how a Vent patient breathes: First, take a deep breath, maximizing all the air pressure in your lungs. Then, take small breaths on top of that air pressure without exhaling all your air. When I tried to breathe this way, I remember struggling to get air into my body. These patients also cannot breathe out and have a sigh of relief. It is unfortunate to see people suffering this way because of a habit they could not quit. This is why I am so passionate about my platform. If I can give children the confidence to say "No" to smoking, then I can help prevent them from ending up like some of these patients who are now on a ventilator, unable to experience the simple action of breathing.

If you or someone you know is a smoker and wants to quit, you can contact the New York State Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or visit their website at