Tag Archive | "Tom Hand"

Take Battle Against Cancer to the Water

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By Emily J Weitz


Cancer is a vicious beast that virtually everyone has faced in some way or another. But for all the destruction that cancer has caused, it has also had a way of bringing out the warrior in people. This weekend, Swim Across America takes place here with the Hamptons Open Water Swim. This national organization has found a strong foothold here with representative and cancer fighter Wendy Tarlow who has been involved with the swim since it started on the East End three years ago.

“I got involved on a minor level,” she says, “because it was helpful to me. I wanted to get involved with something positive.”

In a fight against an elusive, ever-changing enemy, cancer patients often feel that so much is out of their control.

“This is something I can control,” says Tarlow, who lives in Sag Harbor. “The [Swim Across America board] doesn’t know what fuels this massive enthusiasm. But I say it’s something that’s driving me, fueling some intention towards wanting to get better and make a difference.”

Tarlow has worked with a variety of cancer organizations, but she’s passionate about Swim Across America because all the proceeds go right to research, and that’s what’s going to save lives.

“It’s about cancer research,” she says. “This money is going directly to hospitals and patients. It’s not going to CEO’s pockets. Everyone who works for Swim Across America is a volunteer.”

As a result of the successes of Swim Across America, the organization has been able to fund groundbreaking research projects.

“The swim has its own lab at Sloan-Kettering,” says Tarlow. “They came out with the first melanoma vaccine last year, and the hope is that they’ll come out with less toxic drugs. This is truly giving me some hope, some amount of control to feel like I’m a part of research on some level.”

Tarlow has been called “Tornado Tarlow” by the people at Swim Across America because of her success in fundraising and raising awareness. She was asked to be part of their Executive Committee that is involved with swims across Long Island.  She is investing in building the Hamptons Open Water Swim, because she believes it could become a 1 to 2 million dollar fundraiser in the years to come.

Wendy is not the only warrior on Team Tarlow and Hand. More than 40 people will be swimming for the team this weekend, and they’ve already raised over $50,000. Tommy Hand, formerly of Sag Harbor, was a friend of Tarlow’s growing up, and they were diagnosed with cancer at the same time.

“When I was diagnosed,” says Hand, “I went right to the American Cancer Society and started doing volunteer hours.”

Before he got sick, he valued volunteering. But once he was diagnosed, he really began to understand what it was to need help.

“At some time,” he says, “we all need it, and if you don’t put some money in your bank it may not be there when you need it. I think if you build up your karma, or your good acts, I don’t think you’ll be left alone.”

Part of it is having the support of the community around you so you don’t go it alone, says Hand. But the other part is making an impact.

“You want to leave something behind,” says Hand. “You want to leave that you were a good person. Then you never die. Maybe you taught someone about their life through your life, and then they teach someone else. By making an impact, you live right on here on Earth, by living through others.”

The Hamptons Open Water Swim will take place this Saturday, July 7 from 6 to 10 a.m. The Swim starts and ends in Amagansett at Fresh Pond Beach. There is a half mile swim, a mile swim, and a three-mile swim. You can sign up the day of the event or in advance at www.swimacrossamerica.org. Adults 18 and over need to raise (or donate) at least $500 and swimmers younger than 18 need to raise at least $300.

On Sunday evening, July 8, Tommy Hand will host a casual potluck barbecue at Long Beach where people can drop a few dollars in a bucket to support cancer research. All are invited to bring a dish and a lawn chair and meet the community to support each other.

“I want everyone in one place at one time,” he says. “I want to show everybody that their help has made a difference, that I am still around. I want everyone to know each other like they used to and help each other like we should.”


It Takes a Village-7/5/12

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The people in this village are amazing. They really are. While it’s easy to forget that fact in the midst of our harried and hurried lives in which we find ourselves rushing to get to work, avoiding the crowds or getting our children to focus on cleaning their rooms, there are people here who constantly remind us of the importance of community — especially during tough times.

No one embodies that sentiment better then Wendy Tarlow and Tommy Hand, two Sag Harbor natives who both know the struggles of cancer personally. Yet in the midst of their own battles, both have chosen to join the wider fight against cancer by actively participating in fundraising efforts like this weekend’s Swim Across America to raise money for all cancer sufferers.

In fact, Wendy, a.k.a. “Tornado Tarlow” and her team have become a fundraising force to be reckoned with in recent years and Tarlow’s personal ongoing dedication to the Swim Across America organization has been remarkable and unwavering. Her childhood friend, Tommy, who has given back as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society, is part of Wendy’s fundraising swimming team now, and even flew up to Sag Harbor from Florida, where he now lives, so he can take part.

Hand notes how the support of community not only helps those suffering through tough times feel less alone, but it also goes a long way towards making a lasting impact on the lives of others. It’s a legacy that shouldn’t be underestimated — just look at how 12-year-old Katy Stewart, who died of cancer in late 2010 — still makes an impact in the form of the many fundraising efforts that continue in her name.

For Hand, this sort of community involvement through thick and thin is what Sag Harbor is, and has always been, about. On Sunday evening, a casual potluck barbecue on Long Beach will provide an opportunity for all of us to pause in our busy lives, stop by and say hello and thank you to Tommy and Wendy and all those folks who are doing their part. And while you’re there, drop a few bucks in the bucket to support their fundraising efforts.

After all, it’s the reliance on friends, family and neighbors that helps us get through everything. The ups, the downs … the good times, the bad … this thing we call life.

Basketball Challenge Helps Fight Firefighter’s Cancer

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web Hand

By Jesse Rosenthal

The Sag Harbor community is being offered the chance to come out and support a local hero this Saturday. The ‘Unite to Fight’ charity basketball game is in support of firefighter Tom Hand in his battle against Adrenal Cancer. The game will be held at the Pierson High School gymnasium at 1 p.m. on Saturday April, 10, to be followed by a spaghetti dinner at the Sag Harbor fire house from 4 to 8 p.m.

Nominal ticket prices have been set at $5 for adults, $1 for students, and free for children for the basketball game.

“We wanted to keep ticket prices down so we could get the whole community involved,” said Emilie Bennet, a close friend of Hand’s who is helping to coordinate the benefit.

Bennet, along with close friends Melissa Russo and Kevin Gilbride, are working in a coordinated effort with the Sag Harbor and Gainseville fire departments as the driving force behind Saturday’s events.

“We have all known Tommy since high school,” said Russo. “His energy has always been infectious and throughout this battle with cancer he continues to inspire people with his incredible show of courage and enormous heart.”

The basketball game will be a friendly showdown between Hand’s crew from the Gainseville fire department and the Sag Harbor fire department, many of whom are also Pierson alumni. Russo conveyed Hand’s desire to glean something good from an otherwise difficult experience.

“He expressed a particular desire to bring his two families, Gainesville and Sag Harbor, together,” Russo said.

Local businesses have shown a tremendous amount of support. Conca Doro, Il Cappuccino, Cromer’s Market, The Seafood Shop and Espresso are all providing food for the occasion. Both the Sag Harbor Inn and the Barons Cove Inn are offering discounted rates for the weekend. T-shirts, which have been sold throughout the week and will also be available at the game on Saturday were sponsored by Sean Beyel Plumbing and Heating.

According to Bennett, it’s no shock that so many have come out in support of this cause.

“Tommy is just such a kind-hearted guy,” said Bennett. A Pierson High School graduate, Hand was a volunteer firefighter in Sag Harbor in the late 80′s. A full-time paid firefighter with the Gainseville, Fla., fire department, Hand was diagnosed with adrenal cancer in late 2009.

Before Hand was diagnosed, he was involved in organizing a benefit for a girl in Florida. With two daughters of his own, Hand was touched by the experience according to Bennett.

“This benefit, It’s a pay-it-forward type of thing,” she said. “He’s planning on staying involved.”

Hand met people of all ages with cancer during his stay in the hospital in January. One of the young men he met there is coming with his entire family to support him this weekend.

Despite his condition, Hand remains in good spirits and is a constant source of inspiration for his family and friends.

“By raising money for Tommy, we hope to alleviate some of his financial burdens so he can focus his energy on getting better,” said Russo. “In that way he can continue to spread love and inspiration, which is his gift to us all.”

Tom Hand’s mantra, which is ‘Live, Love, Laugh,’ will be available to wear on your wrist in the form of a bracelet come Saturday. The bracelets are $5.

To see what is going on in Tom’s world, go to Carepages.com and search firefightertom. It is free to join and all of the posts from Tom and his family and friends are available to read.

For more information on Saturday’s events or to make a donation call Emilie Bennett at (631) 725-2454 or Kevin Gilbride at (631) 300-5195.