Even before Angelo Mazzone found out his catering company had won a $35,000 custom-made motorcycle, he had plans for the silver, blue and green beauty.
So when Mazzone Hospitality won the motorcycle in a giveaway from Orange County Choppers, he put a plan in motion to ensure it would benefit the memory of Christopher Stewart and Deanna Rivers, two Shenendehowa High School seniors who died Dec. 1 in a Northway crash.
“I sent our chef down to the event. I said, ‘If you win it, you’re not getting it. We’re going to do a fundraiser for these kids,’ ” he recalled Wednesday.
Mazzone ended up following through on the plan.
On Wednesday, he announced that Mazzone Hospitality will host a large-scale fundraiser July 15 to benefit the Shenendehowa Educational Foundation and The Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center, in honor of Stewart and Rivers.
Guests will have the opportunity to win the motorcycle, valued at more than $35,000, at the summer benefit at Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia. Individuals can purchase a ticket for $60 and a pair can purchase two tickets for $100. Guests can purchase the tickets at any Mazzone restaurant, at the door or online at www.mazzonehospitality.com.
There will be food, beverages and music, with proceeds from the event divided equally between the two nonprofits groups.
“The December crash that took the lives of Shen seniors Christopher Stewart and Deanna Rivers shook not only the Shenendehowa community, but the entire Capital District,” said Mazzone. “Many of us were left wondering how can we help, how can we show our support in the weeks following the tragedy.”
The Shenendehowa Educational Foundation was an obvious recipient for such an event, with the not-for-profit’s support for educational enrichment and grants for students.
Shenendehowa Central School District Superintendent Dr. Oliver Robinson said that while he was grateful for the Mazzone contribution to the foundation, he was saddened by the event that sparked it.
“The tragic deaths of Chris and Deanna still hold heavy in our hearts,” he said. “However, if we got one thing from their deaths, it’s that it has really cemented the sense of community … and certainly we continue to mourn their loss, but we also celebrate the lives of two wonderful young people, and the funds from this will continue to provide programming for generations to come.”
The Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center was perhaps the less obvious recipient. But Mazzone knew through friends and family how the organization has helped children across the Capital Region — from children in car accidents to children with cystic fibrosis — and he wanted to give back.
Pediatrics Chairman David Clark said the hospital admits children from all across the state, and as far east as western Massachusetts and Vermont.
“It’s a big operation,” he said. “Under-funded, always. About half the children are on Medicaid, with another 5 to 10 percent totally underinsured, and of the remainder, about one-third of those are underinsured … All of that is to say we’re always looking for support. We hang on. We do what we need to do. We don’t ask where the money’s going to come from, but we’re very thankful when it does come.”
The families of the late teens attended a launch event for the fundraiser Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Clifton Park, and spoke of their gratitude for the community’s continuing support.
Chris’ mother, Regina Stewart, said events like the upcoming fundraiser keep her son’s memory alive, and she appreciates it.
“I just wanted to thank every one of you for keeping him close and for helping us keep him close, too,” she said.
Brian Rivers, the father of 17-year-old softball standout Deanna Rivers, said he’d like to have the motorcycle for himself.
“I’d keep it right in my living room, actually,” he joked. “It’s just a great show of appreciation in honor of Deanna and Chris, and I think right now if they were looking down on us they wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The custom chopper will be on display at Mazzone restaurants until the winner is chosen.