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Racioppo Promotes Games to Fight Cancer

Joe Racioppo lost his wife Sandra Racioppo to cancer less than a year ago, but Joe's ongoing effort to raise money and awareness to fight the disease embodies the love Sandy left behind.

On June 17, Racioppo, a high school coach and an umpire with the Westchester County Umpires Association, will host the latest in a series of charity sports events to raise funds to fight cancer – a baseball matchup between area coaches and umpires.

“I've been raising money for cancer research for the past 10 years, ever since my wife first contracted the disease,” said Racioppo, as he watched the Class B semifinal baseball game at Pace University last Monday. “Coaching junior varsity volleyball at Horace Greeley High School we ran volleyball tournaments with great success, using the varsity and freshmen teams (a real community effort).”

A total of 12 schools and volleyball umpires donated their time  and entered the tournament, which raised $4,300. Sandra Racioppo was raised in Pleasantville and taught in the Plesantville school system.

“Verizon was able to match our cash amount which was truly a big incentive for us,” said Racioppo, has tried events in several sports in his constant effort to find ways to raise funding and provide a fun venue for the participants and spectators.

“I tried the same format with student basketball players, but it fail due to lack of interest,” Racioppo said. “Now it’s on to baseball. With the help of fellow umpires, under the leadership of Dave Greiner (Valhalla athletic director) we were able to piece together a team with some baseball backgrounds. It only took three days to have the team in place and making donations of $20 came without hesitation. It was a proud moment to be an umpire.”

The game will be at the Pleasantville High School campus with the first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. Racioppo said he is waiting for the coaches to surface with a full team.

“I'm still very positive that Bob Jordan from Pleasantville and Ed Mulvahill from Brewster can rally coaches at the sectional dinner on June 13th to man up for a good cause,” Racioppo said. “It will be a seven or nine inning game with modified rules and a chance for players to show off some skills. During the 10-week season coaches and umpires are always on the move and there's never any time for personal friendships. I believe this event will give us the time to say the things we couldn’t during a game (could be great therapy).”

Racioppo wanted to thank the owners of Michael's Tavern in Pleasantville, Doug and Nancy Crossett, who have been donating time, prizes and the use of their tavern over the last three years to help the cause.

“It's because of their assistance the success of past tournaments allows me to continue doing these events,” Racioppo said.

And Sandra Racioppo’s legacy of love lives on.

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