A Toast To Life!

“A Toast To Life!” Celebrating Friends with Food and Fun

To Life!'s annual spring fundraising event, "A Toast To Life!" Celebrating Friends with Family and Fun, is a warm, friendly evening with friends. Join us on May 2, 2017 from 5:30 - 8:30pm at the Franklin Plaza Ballroom in Troy, NY, as we present the "You're an Angel" award to Barbara Rizzo McHale. A showcase of area restaurants and a silent auction provide a festive backdrop for recognition of those who help women and families in our area who have been affected by breast cancer. A brief formal program includes presentation of awards and film highlights. All proceeds are used to fund To Life!'s extensive education programs, support services and wellness programs held throughout the year.


General admission: $50

Young Professional (under 30): $30

Honorary Committee: $200/couple, $125/individual

Clck Here to Register

Tickets at the door: $55

For Photos from Gala 2016, visit our Facebook page!   at    www.facebook.com/ToLifeCares/

2017 Culinary Sponsors:

333 Café

Alexis Diner

Bella Napoli

Bountiful Bread

Café Calabria

Chris’ Coffee Service

Franklin Plaza Ballroom

Hana Japanese Steakhouse

La Serre

Mazzone Hospitality

New World Bistro Bar

Nicole’s Restaurant

Reel Seafood

Spicy Mint Indian Cuisine

Valente’s Restaurant

Corporate Sponsors:

A Toast To Health:

St. Peter’s Health Partners

A Toast To Family:

Security Plumbing & Heating Supply

A Toast To Friends:

Albany Medical Center

Hinman Straub PC

New York Oncology Hematology


Stuyvesant Plaza Inc.

Times Union

A Toast To Kindness:

Coldwell Banker – Karen Glaser

Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Janney Montgomery Scott

Nigro Companies

Tri-City Rentals

A Toast To Gratitude:

Bella Napoli Italian Bakery

Buenau’s Opticians

Capital Region Women’s Care

Client Centered Solutions, LLC (added 4/13)

Charlew Builders Inc.

Henry Margu Wigs

Hodes & Landy Inc.

New York Health Plan Association

Pearl Carroll & Associates

Robert Wright Disposal & Cart-Away

Shenker Russo & Clark LLP

Vanguard Fine, LLC

Congratulations to our 2016 Gala Award Honorees:

Extra Mile Award - St. Mary's Cancer Treatment Center, Troy, NY

In June 2015, St. Peter’s Health Partners opened the doors to the new beautifully appointed St. Mary’s Cancer Treatment Center located on the second floor of the St. Mary’s campus in Troy. Funded solely through donations, the Center offers comprehensive medical oncology, hematology and infusion services, a patient navigation program, genetic counseling and a variety of integrative wellness programs. Radiation oncology services continue to be provided at Samaritan Hospital.

The Center was designed for and by Cancer Treatment Center patients and features spacious exam rooms, a friendly concierge station to direct patients to the services they need, and an activity area where the children of patients can play. It also offers many other special rooms and services. In addition, the Center offers a complement of integrative wellness services designed to help patients live healthier, more stress-free lives. These programs include healing- touch therapy, patient education, support groups, rehabilitation support, healthy cooking classes and nutrition counseling, yoga classes and therapeutic massage. The Center’s integrative wellness programs are offered to patients free of charge thanks to the generous donation of the Karen L. Mosseau Fund and Nancy B. Clemente Fund. We at To Life! applaud the collaborative efforts and the vision that went into the development of the Cancer Treatment Center. Tonight we celebrate their success with the “Extra Mile” award.

You're An Angel Award - Susan Abbuhl and Linda Fox, our Resource Volunteers

Susan has been an active community volunteer for many years. Whether helping out as a parent volunteer at her kids’ schools, the Regional Food Bank, volunteering her time as a past board member of the Pine Hollow Arboretum or serving as a resource volunteer at To Life! Sue is always willing to lend a hand. She particularly enjoys her time at To Life! because she says it seems as though everyone has been touched by cancer in some way and any role she can play, or amount of time she can contribute, makes her feel like she’s giving back to the community and making a difference. Sue enjoys gardening, artistic painting and reading. Sue resides in Delmar with her husband and children.


Linda Fox has served for the past two years as a resource volunteer at To Life! in our Delmar office. To Life! has been part of Linda’s world since she began attending support groups with her cousin.

Witnessing the sharing of information, camaraderie and genuine care and compassion continues to have a profound effect on both women. Linda eagerly engages with visitors and callers to the office, ensuring the right connection. No question is too large or too small – there are always options. Linda’s motto ”you must be an advocate for yourself and those you love”. She adopted this mantra when she became involved with her mother’s battle with breast cancer, a five year journey. Linda continues to advocate for family and friends. Linda and her husband Ed live in Glenmont where they have raised their daughter Alisa.

Honorary Chairs - Nancy and Steve Lerner

Event Chairs - Penny LaRocque and Joanne Riddett

Thank you to our 2016 Corporate Sponsors:

Ivory Level

St. Peter's Health Partners

Pink Level

Security Plumbing & Heating Supply

Rose Level

Coldwell Banker Prime Properties - Karen Glaser

Hinman Straub, Attorneys at Law

New York Oncology and Hematology

Sentron Associates

Times Union

Mauve Level

Nigro Companies

Burgundy Level

Albany Medical Center

Bella Napoli Italian Bakery

CapitalCare Medical Group

Capital Region Women's Care


First Niagara Bank

Henry Margu Wigs

New York Health Plan Association


Robert Wright/Cart Away

Shenker, Russo and Clark, LLP

Past Gala Honorees and Chairs

Previous Gala Honorees and Chair Persons


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Nini Wu, President of NY Oncology Hematology

While leading NYOH, Dr. Wu continues to treat hundreds of breast cancer patients a year as well as working to align a growing need for complex cancer treatments into the country's evolving health care delivery system. Inspired by her vision as a health care leader, her commitment to ensuring that every NYOH patient has access to the best possible cancer treatment and her personal passion as a trusted physician, To Life! proudly recognized Dr. Wu with the 'Extra Mile Award'.

Raising the Bar Award - Dr. Kirsten Cestaro, Director of Breast Imaging at St. Peter's Hospital

Dr. Cestaro leads teams that perform and interpret screening and diagnostic breast imaging, as well as diagnostic procedures that assist in identifying breast cancer. At our 2014 Annual Women's Health Conference, Dr. Cestaro's presentation focused on Breast Screening allowing further clarity and in depth discussion for the audience. To Life! recognized Dr. Cestaro for her ability to communicate a complex subject understandable to all.

Honorary Chairs - Karen and Mark Glaser

Event Chairs - Joanne Riddett and Penny Larocque


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Arsyl DeJesus

Dr DeJesus is a radiation oncologist for NYOH with a practice in Amsterdam. Dr. DeJesus is well known for "treating her patients as if they were family" and always goes that 'Extra Mile' to ensure her patients are comfortable during their cancer journey. She is more than a trusted physician, bringing inspiration with her sense of humor and infectious smile to her patients. Dr. DeJesus is also a member of various community organizations.

You're An Angel Award - Diane Keasbey, RN, OCN, St. Peter's Health Partners

Diane has been a nurse for over 20 years and is presently the Community Outreach Nurse with St. Peter's Hospital Cancer Care Center, providing education, prevention, screening, fundraising and survivorship to patients, survivors and caregivers. Diane serves on several Boards and is committed to serving her patients while maintaining a balance with family and work.

Honorary Chairs - Ms. Marri Aviza and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Event Chairs - Joanne Riddett and Penny Larocque


Extra Mile Award - Sabrina Mosseau, BS, RN, OCN, St. Peter's Health Partners

Sabrina is Administrative Director of Medical Oncology and Women's Health at Samaritan Hospital's Cancer Treatment Center and Women's Health Center. Sabrina is not only committed to the oncology community as a patient advocate and educator, as she is also actively involved in many local oncology organizations. Sabrina holds her nursing and science degrees and commits her professional energy to improving patient experiences through their cancer journey.

You're An Angel Award - Mary Bowen, NYOH

Mary holds a Masters degree in nursing while being the face of kindness in the office of New York Oncology Hematology. At NYOH she is a nurse navigator who brings oncology nursing experience with her to help cancer patients during a critical time. Her ability to connect with patients, advocate and listen has served our community well.

Honorary Chairs - Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Wallingford

Event Chairs - Catherine Black and Joanne Riddett


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Arthur Wallingford

Dr. Wallingford has based his career on the priorities of 'faith, family and friends' and has worked with the women in our community for many years with a caring and compassionate demeanor. He has developed a successful career specializing in female reproductive health and gynecological health issues, carrying on his father's practice and always going that extra mile for countless women in the greater Capital Region.

You're An Angel Award - Judy Rosch, BS, RN, RM, BSHP

Judy is a trained nurse and Reiki therapist who has dedicated her professional life to providing care to those who need it most. Judy maintains a private healing practice, lectures on health and well-being and has provided complimentary Reiki therapy for clients of To Life! for many years. Over the years, Judy has held positions at St. Peter's Hospital, a Cardiology office, school nurse and in a nursing home setting as the intake coordinator and nurse manager for the Community Hospice. Judy uses methods of relaxation and stress reduction for patient care.

Honorary Chair - Angela Beddoe

Event Chairs - Catherine Black and Joanne Riddett


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Donna Pietrocola, AMC

Dr. Pietrocola has devoted a substantial portion of her career to helping women battle breast cancer with her extraordinary skill and compassion as a surgeon. Dr. Pietrocola serves as the head of the section of Breast and Endocrine Surgery in the Department of Surgery at Albany Medical Center Hospital and is an associate professor of surgery at Albany Medical College. She is a remarkable mentor to her medical students and residents and is trained in general surgery, transplantation and trauma surgery. 

You're An Angel Award -  Carol Reid, Diane Bollman-Buyer and Nancy Clemente

Both Carol and Diane are breast cancer survivors who found a way to give back to their community by volunteering with To Life! They have spread awareness by presenting Breast Health Workshops together over the past several years to numerous area organizations, state agencies and medical groups. Carol and Diane have helped sustain the Breast Health Outreach program by recording a sample presentation on DVD, which will be used to train future volunteer Breast Health Educators.


Nancy Clemente is an Occupational Therapist who is a two time breast cancer "thriver". Nancy is passionate about empowering others to promote their own health and well being, believing that there is a gap in the information available to breast cancer survivors, so she created the Nancy B. Clemente Beat Cancer Fund to support educational programs in conjunction with the Samaritan Hospital Cancer Treatment Center and To Life! She is a community partner and volunteer mentor.

Honorary Chair - Jennifer Whalen

Event Chair - Cynthia Guntner


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Debbie Kennedy, Albany Plastic Surgeons

Dr. Kennedy is a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon affiliated with Capital District hospitals since 1991. Dr. Kennedy's practice is breast and cosmetic surgery and she works closely with area specialists to provide state of the art breast reconstruction for cancer patients. Dr. Kennedy brings a compassionate, feminine touch to her practice and her goal is to assist each patient individually in making sound medical decisions to achieve their goals. Dr. Kennedy takes pride in using her knowledge and vast experience to care for her patients.

You're An Angel Award - Shirley Unser and Stephen Berger

Shirley began her journey with Healing Touch, an "energy therapy" that uses gentle hand techniques intended to help align an individual's energy field to promote wellness and accelerate healing of the body, mind and Spirit. In 2007, Shirley became a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner. She volunteers her skills and time twice a month at To LIfe! with the support of her employer, Bank of America Merrill Lynch.


Steve has been performing musically for about 40 years, playing guitar, bass, mandolin and drums. In recent years, Steve plays exclusively for church, benefits and charities such as To Life!. Steve proudly donates his time and talents to To Life! in honor of his mother, who was a 20 year breast cancer survivor, and other women in his life. 

Honorary Chairs - Dr. and Mrs. Todd Doyle

Event Chairs - Catherine Black and Pamela Carter


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Michael Castro and Dr. Jeffrey Rockmore

Dr. Castro is a NYS Board certified Medical Oncologist who has been practicing in north eastern NY for over 18 years. He is well known for his compassion and passion for treating his patients. Dr. Castro has experience in Neoplastic diseases, as well as Biochemotherapy of Melanoma and Renal Cell Carcinoma. Dr. Castro is the Medical Director for St. Mary's Hospital Cancer Medicine Center in Amsterdam, NY and is a huge asset to the community there. He is dedicated to the continuous search for the cure of cancer.

Dr. Rockmore is a native of the Capital Region and graduated from Albany Medical College. He did his residency at Albany Medical Center Hospital and holds certification from the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Rockmore's professional affiliations include: the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Northeast Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. He practices at the Plastic Surgery Group in Albany.

You're An Angel Award - Women of the Quilters Getaway: Lisa Fagan, Londa VanDerzee, Mary Ann Peters, Bonnie Turner

The Quilters Getaway is a group of women who come together several times a year not just to quilt, but to be together. In the beginning, they had a friend who was suffering from a relapse of breast cancer and they wanted to do something to show their support for not only for her, but for other women and their families as well. They came up with the idea of a silent auction and chose To Life! to be the recipient of the donated funds. Since 1999, the quilters have donated funds twice a year to To Life! This most generous group never fails to show their support.

Honorary Chairs - Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Sunkin

Event Chairs - Catherine Black and Kevin Dubner


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Duncan Savage

Dr. Savage is the Section Chief of the Division of Radiation Oncology at St. Peter's Cancer Care Center and a partner at Albany Radiation Oncology Associates. He has years of experience with his practice and the Cancer Care Center while serving on the Executive Committee for the Medical Staff at St. Peter's Health Care Services and the Credentialing Committee at St. Peter's. He is well known not only for the expertise in his field, but also for his compassion and willingness to assist women and their families as they navigate through their cancer journey. As an advisor to To Life! Dr. Savage's input is invaluable, especially for our education programs.

You're An Angel Award - Patrick Ahearn

 Patrick Ahearn has been a fixture at To Life! since the building at 410 Kenwood Avenue was purchased in 2001.He was asked to help with tearing down shelving, but didn't stop with that one task as he worked with contractors, painted, spackled and painted some more. He never hesitated to head to the hardware store, paint store or any place else he was needed, often not accepting reimbursement for his purchases on behalf of To Life! For being one of our most faithful, productive and reliable volunteers we extend our deepest gratitude and declare that he is truly an "Angel".

Honorary Chair - Honorable Kemp Hannon

Event Chairs - Patti Boochever and Lisa Finkle


Extra Mile Award - Slingerlands Golf Association

The Slingerlands Golf Association was founded in 2003 by Keith Derbyshire and David Luntz to provide a realistically competetive environment for their unmatched golf skills. They started the Slingerlands Cup to be played each June, and decided to donate the monies raised to To Life!! in honor of Keith's wife, Vicky, who was recovering from breast cancer. Although the group runs this for fun, they were able to raise nearly $20,000 toward To Life!'s Capital Campaign. The downstairs powder room is named for them, and many of the members have become volunteers for To Life!

You're An Angel Award - Kevin Dubner

Kevin has worked with To Life! since 2004 when he was at the Gala and noticed that we needed to computerize the auction check out process to make it speedier and more efficient.  Kevin's background in the financial industry and past programming experience proved an ideal background for development of the database program that has become known as "Bubba Dog Auctions". The Bubba Dog Auctions program now successfully manages the silent auction at every Gala since 2005 along with two Pink Ball events and two Old Bags Luncheons. When not helping at To Life!, Kevin is a financial advisor with Janney Montgomery Scott.

Special Tribute - Eileen Howe

Eileen was recruited by Catie Black to be involved with the Gala and she quickly embraced To Life! and became an indispensable member of the volunteer Gala Committee. From the beginning, Eileen has designed the program book, helped with check in and check out the night of the Gala and helped manage the flow of 300 Gala guests. Soon she was helping out in similar capacities for the Pink Ball. In 2006, Eileen revamped the website with a fresh new look, easier to navigate tools and other improvements. When she is not volunteering for To Life! , Eileen is an Advancement Officer for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Honorary Chair - Lisa J. Nigro

Event Chairs - Lisa Finkle and Patti Boochever


Extra Mile Award - Benita Zahn

Benita is the Health Reporter for News Channel 13. She wears the hat of many; journalist, wife, marathon runner and actor.  Benita can be seen co-anchoring Channel 13's evening news, reporting on health issues, producing HEALTHLINK on WMHT, and emceeing many health events throughout the year. She brings a tangible enthusiasm and professionalism that are transmitted right through the television screen. To Life! honors Benita Zahn with the 2006 Extra Mile Award for her integrity, insight and commitment as a preeminent health educator in our community. 

Honorary Chairs - Denise Becker, Becky Kasselman and Chick LedDuke

Event Chair - Pam Carter


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Michael Kolodziej

Dr. Kolodziej is a physician with New York Hematology Oncology practicing predominantly at St. Peter's Hospital where is is the chief of medical oncology. Dr. Kolodziej has a long time clinical and research interest in breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. He was recently elected chairman of the US Oncology Pharmacy and Therapeutics committee. A frequent To Life! lecturer, he is beloved by many of the area's breast cancer survivors as a comptetent and compassionate physician.

Event Chairs- Lisa Finkle and Pam Carter


Extra Mile Award - Janet Abrahamson

The Extra Mile award is presented to Janet for her tireless efforts on behalf of women and families affected by breast cancer. As a caring professional, Janet shares her knowledge of available resources for patients and works to ensure the continuation of many programs valuable to those served by To Life!. As a volunteer, she dedicates herself to helping with many of To Life!'s events, including the Gala.

Special Tribute - Dr. Arthur Sunkin

Dr. Sunkin is a dedicated physician and original member of To Life!'s Board of Directors. He is recognized for his countless hours of compassionate and professional patient care. Dr. Sunkin has generously shared his time, experience and expertise with the community by participating in many To Life!'s educational programs.

Honorary Chairs - Joseph Bruno and Ronald Canestrari

Event Chairs - Catherine Black and Patti Boochever


Extra Mile Award - Laurie Mazzone

Special Tribute - Barry A. Gold (accepted by Sherry)

Barry Gold was a partner in Thuillez, Ford, Gold, Butler and Monroe and concentrated on Health Law. Mr. Gold regularly represented clients before the Department of Health, Office of Professional Medical Conduct, Education Department and other governmental agencies which deal with health and mental health issues.  Mr. Gold was active in professional and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Medical Society of NY, the NYS Bar Association, and acted as a trustee for Capital Repertory Theater in Albany. We pay tribute to Barry for his commitment to community service and to health care issues.

Honorary Chair - Dr. Andrew Warheit

Event Chairs - Catherine Black and Jill Goodman


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Ruth Beer

Honorary Chair - Governor George. E. Pataki

Event Chairs - Lauren Iselin


Extra Mile Award - Dr. Albert Ellman

Dr. Ellman has been an Obstetrics/Gynecology physician for 30 years. He is involved in the Medical Society of NYS, as counselor, member of the board of directors, and commissioner of governmental affairs. He served as President of Albany County Medical Society as well as being chairman of the American College of OB-GYN in NY. He has marched to the steps of the Capitol in Albany to protest the Medical Malpractice Costs and was successful in making significant changes for physicians and their patients. Dr. Ellman earns the Extra Mile for early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Honorary Chair - Kemp Hannon


Honorary Chair - Kemp Hannon


Honorary Chair - Kemp Hannon