Fundraiser for 14-year-old cancer patient

UNICO hosting dinner and comedy night, Dec. 16


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  • Melanie Russo enjoying the season Photos provided by Russo family




  • Melanie has a rare form of bone cancer



By Rose Sgarlato

– Sparta UNICO will host a Pasta Dinner & Comedy Night featuring Uncle Floyd on Saturday, Dec.16 at 7 pm.

The fundraiser will benefit cancer patient and Sparta resident, 14-year-old Melanie Russo. The BYOB event costs $45 a person and will be held at McKenna Hall in the Reverend Brown School.

Russo is a freshman at Sparta High School and dances at Dance Dimensions by Michelle in Sparta. She is undergoing chemotherapy for a rare form of bone cancer.

Food, music and a comedy routine performed by comedian Uncle Floyd will be the featured act on the Dec. 16 event. There will also be a tricky tray, and donations for prizes are being accepted. Members of Sparta UNICO will run the event, and Italian favorites will be served: pasta and meatballs, sausage and peppers, salad and Cannoli for dessert.

UNICO is a registered 501(c)(3) corporation and all donations and contributions are tax deductible.

"Everyone of us has been touched by the strength and fortitude of this 14-year-old girl who is an avid dancer here in Sparta. We want to help the family with their financial burden and let Melanie know we want her to succeed and once again be that happy dancer,” said Ray Shupak, president of Sparta UNICO.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 862-432-2141 or at the door.

Shupak provided the following information about Sparta UNICO:

“Since 1998, Sparta UNICO, a true service organization has been giving back to the people of Sussex County with a motto of ‘Service Above Self. We are about everything good in the Italian-American culture and promote its integrity and contributions to America. There are currently 50 local charities that Sparta UNICO has supported over the years and continues to reach out to new ones. If you want to find out more about UNICO or have an interest in joining, please contact us by mail: Sparta UNICO P.O. Box 328 Sparta, NJ 07871 or call me directly at 862-266-7039."

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