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Walter Panas Student Helps Families Fighting Cancer

Alyson and Risa Repetto
Alyson and Risa Repetto Photo Credit: Contributed

GARRISON, N.Y. -- Risa Repetto knows all too well what it's like when a family member is diagnosed with cancer.

Repetto, a Walter Panas junior who lives in Garrison, has launched a project called "Taking a Break From Cancer," to help those families battling breast and ovarian cancer. In 2014, Repetto's mother, Alison, was diagnosed with breast cancer, which is now in remission.

"We had to worry about a lot," Repetto said. "We realized other families have to deal with this too and I wanted to help lighten the load."

The project was organized with the help of Support Connection, based out of Yorktown, and provides gift cards to restaurants, salons, movie theaters and anything else that could provide a night of fun for families.

"Anything to help brighten their day," Repetto said. "We want to do anything to make them a little bit happier."

While her mom was battling cancer, Repetto said the biggest difficulty was the uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen day to day.

"It was really hard watching what she was going through," Repetto said. "Seeing her lose her hair was really hard. There were many days where we didn't know what we were going to have for dinner. I ate peanut butter sandwiches and cold cereal for dinner on many occasions without complaint. These gift cards mean there is one less thing to worry about."

Repetto said it was tough concentrating on school and competitive dancing while her mother battled cancer.

"It was very difficult," Repetto said.  "We got through it, I had great support from family and friends."

The gift cards are in the process of being sent out to families by Support Connection. Repetto said businesses have been receptive with Doug's Pretty Good Pub in Cold Spring, Le Bouchon in Cold Spring, Oscar's Italian Restaurant in Yorktown, Thyme Italian Restaurant in Yorktown, Michael Robert's Salon and Spa in Mohegan Lake and Valero Gas Station in Cortlandt Manor supplying gift cards.

Repetto said finding out her mom's cancer had gone into remission was one of the best feelings she'd ever felt.

"My mom is the most inspiring I know," Repetto said. "I look up to her for everything. She was always so strong, it really made an impact on me. She dealt with it so calmly, she was really amazing."

For more information or to donate, contact Support Connection at 914-962-6402.

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