As a member of the Columbiettes — and other charitable organizations — Stony Brook’s Anne Graziani spent the majority of her 83 years of life giving back to those in need.
Now her son, Robert, is picking up where she left off. In 2017, he launched the Anne V. Graziani Fund, a nonprofit that provides tickets to live events for cancer patients at Stony Brook University Cancer Center.
That’s the place that treated Robert’s mother, who died of bone cancer in 2016.
The goal of the charity is to give people who may lack the financial resources a memory-filled experience.
That is something close to Robert’s heart — he took his mother to a New York Mets game a few months before she died.
“It was one of her last great memories,” said Robert. “Now I want to pass it forward.”
how it works
Through donations, the Anne V. Graziani Fund is able to facilitate tickets to sporting and concert events to the patients.
The fund also supplies StubHub gift cards for those who may not know when they will be feeling better from treatment.
Mostly, Robert doesn’t know who in particular receives the gifts, as the hospital distributes them amongst their patients.
But, he says it is worth it when he gets emails like this:
“Just wanted to pass along a hearty thank you from one of our patients,” wrote Lindamarie Monckton, the hospital’s cancer patient advocate. “Edward is a 50-year-old patient recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and having a difficult time. He is very a friendly person and loves to talk sports.
“He was very touched by how you are honoring your mom and grateful to be able to make some memories with his own daughter.”
Last summer, the charity’s founder was able to enjoy an event with the patients at a Long Island Ducks game in Central Islip, where he secured a luxury suite for the hospital.
“One of the patients threw out the first pitch of the game,” he said.
It made him think of his mother.
“She enjoyed people being happy,” said Robert, “Because of her I really enjoy giving than receiving. ”
After she passed away, Robert decided to write a memoir of his mother.
“As I was learning more and more about her — and all the trails that she experienced— this is a woman really enjoyed life even through her circumstances.”
Anne, at 2, contracted polio which left her paralyzed from the waist down.
That didn’t stop her from becoming one of the firsts to New York State to learn to drive with hand controls or earning a degree from Farmingdale State College.
It also didn’t stop her from traveling the world.
When she was 48, she visited Calcutta, India, where she adopted her son, Robert, from the Mother Theresa Orphanage.
She also spent 30 years with the Columbiettes to help women with housing, food, shelter, while volunteering for several food banks.
“My mother was all about charity,” said Robert. “I just want to pass on her legacy.”
For those interested in donating to Robert’s cause, click here.
Top: Robert Graziani with his mother, Anne (courtesy).