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Residents helping others: Benefit honors memory of cancer victim

Sat, Nov 17th 2018 07:00 am
Lewiston Police Chief Frank Previte extends his family's appreciation to Mike Carroll for all of his support. (Photo by Terry Duffy)
Lewiston Police Chief Frank Previte extends his family's appreciation to Mike Carroll for all of his support. (Photo by Terry Duffy)
Community fundraiser raises thousands for Previte family
By Terry Duffy
Editor-in-Chief
Last month, joining a host of Halloween celebrations going on throughout the River Region, Lewiston resident Mike Carroll presented yet another one of his now-famous get-togethers at the Brickyard Pub and B.B.Q.
"Every year I throw a Halloween party at an establishment in Lewiston," Carroll said of his annual Halloween Bash. "This year it was at the Brickyard in Lewiston. I do it every year. I charge a fee at the door, and the proceeds go to a certain family or cause."
Typically, Carroll chooses to designate law enforcement causes as his beneficiaries.
 "This is the 10th year I have had this party; I think about seven of the 10 years I have donated towards the law enforcement community," he said. "I have family - two uncles who were officers. I like to keep it within the law enforcement community."
This time, however, it was a little different. On Wednesday, Sept. 19, Janice L. Previte, 55, of Lewiston, lost her six-month battle to leukemia at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. The mother of two children - Alicia and Frank Previte IV - she worked as a supervisor at Life Technologies/Thermo Fisher Scientific in Grand Island. Janice was the wife of Lewiston Police Chief Frank Previte III.
As the community joined with the Previte family in honoring the memory of this special mother, wife and lifelong River Region resident, Carroll made the offer that the proceeds of this annual benefit would be dedicated to her family. Carroll announced, "I'm hoping to get a big turnout to support the Johnston/Previte family."
Following days of diligent planning and promoting this benefit - in the community, on social media and beyond - the Oct. 29 event proved to be perhaps Carroll's best-attended event ever.
"(The party) this year, it was the biggest turnout we've ever had in four years - just under 400 people; it was 375 people. Every year it just seems to be getting bigger and bigger," he said. "With it, the donation going toward Janice Previte, lifelong Youngstown and Lewiston resident. (Her) family is very well known in the area. I think a lot of people showed up just to show their support for the family."
Just over $2,400 was raised.
Carroll said, "This is the first time in the 10 years that I've had a party where the proceeds are going to someone who actually did pass. So, it was a little different for me. Originally, because she wasn't able to work, I was going to donate to her to help with bills, whatever."
He added, "I thought since she has two kids at home, that the best thing for the family was for money to go toward their schooling, make it easier. After a little talk with her family, I think we all agreed that the kids were going to get the money; it's going to be going toward their schooling."
As to the event's success, Carroll credited it to that special characteristic of wanting to help others that's so common of residents throughout Buffalo-Niagara, but especially so in the Lewiston, Youngstown and Porter community.
"You've heard the term 'Mayberry.' It's not quite Mayberry, but everybody in Lewiston knows everybody. And when something like this happens, I guess you can say, one of ours, it seems like everyone comes together, to support them, their family," Carroll said. "I'm proud to say that I'm a lifelong resident of Lewiston. This is my home."
As to the assistance from others, "People ask me during the party, why don't you go and mingle with people. (But) no, this is my baby. I don't want anything to go wrong. I make sure everything goes smoothly. I enjoy doing it," he said.
Carroll went on to praise the ownership and staff at the Brickyard, with whom he has enjoyed a multi-year relationship in helping him successfully organize the fundraisers. And he also had words of appreciation to the many interests in the River Region community who have helped make this event what it was.
"The other businesses, they've been very appreciative; they've come forward every year sending donations, gift certificates - they know it's for a good cause," he said. "I've got to say, everyone in the community, businesswise, residents - everyone's been great."
Carroll said more than 350 orange "Fight Leukemia" bracelets were handed out to visitors at the benefit event. He said that alone has been going miles to further raise community awareness to the harsh realities of cancer.
"It's a deadly disease," he said. "Unfortunately, Janice did not have much time to fight this disease. I mean six months, you saw what happened to her. It's deadly; hopefully people are aware that this is something not to mess with. Donate; do whatever you can to help.
"I'm very appreciative to the community for coming forward and helping us to be the biggest turnout I've had. I look forward to just continuing this one. I wish I didn't have to do this part of it, and donate to a family that is suffering, because of it."
Chief Previte went on to offer reflection on Janice's battle with this disease over the past year.
"She was diagnosed in March; we were in Cancun, Mexico. When we came back, she was diagnosed. She went into the hospital right after that. She was diagnosed. She received a bone marrow transplant in July, and everything was going great, everything was going well," he said. "She was doing really well accepting; she wasn't having any rejection issues. And then she went in, she was feeling a little off during one of her regular visits to Roswell, and they kept her. She went in on a Thursday, she passed the next Tuesday. Everything happened very quickly. They found an infection and she had pneumonia, and an infection, a blood clot on her lung, and it just happened quickly. She passed on within that week."
Previte said that, in her final days, his wife was also mindful of the help that others, notably Carroll, had been providing: "She was aware of it. Matter of fact, she had to clear it. Mike had called me. I had to ask her; told him I'd ask her, because she was very low-key, did not want a lot of attention with anything. But she was appreciative. She was aware of what was going on."
Previte also offered his sincere appreciation for all that Carroll did and continues to do in support of his family.
"It's been overwhelming to see the support, the reaction. Not only what Mike's done in organizing this, but, as a matter of fact, Mike had organized this before anything had happened," he said.
Of the entire experience and the wonderful support received from the community, Previte said he and his family continue to be taken aback by the consideration and generosity of the community.
"I've gotten a box of cards that've been sent to the house; I've gotten food that's been sent to the house - some of it from people that I don't even know," he said. "It's been overwhelming, the support we've gotten as far as myself and the kids. It's helped immensely. I've got all the cards, everything in a box to keep.
"It's been more than I could have ever thought. It's helped - it's helped me and it's helped the kids, because everything was very sudden. I just can't imagine.
"I lost my mom when I was in my late 30s and it was hard enough; I can't imagine being 18 or 16. I've known people who have lost parents ... but when you're a kid, that's a different story. I'm proud of them and how they've held up, but a lot of that has been because of the community and the support that we received from a lot of different fronts."
Offering some closing reflection on his family's experience over past months, Previte continued, "Leukemia, you know especially in that field ... they told us every day there's advances, that's why we went to Roswell. But it makes you realize just how fragile everything is and just how a terrible disease it really is. Especially this one. She had the type, it was acute; it was really more aggressive than others. Everything happened kind of quick.
"I can't say enough for what Mike's doing, to raise awareness, to raise money, to raise awareness for it, because it's important. It's a scary thing."

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