So, You Want To Be An Elephant Doctor

  Kaitlyn Sage had the ultimate veterinary internship, traveling to Thailand to care for elephants rescued from abuse.

Kaitlyn Sage had the ultimate veterinary internship, traveling to Thailand to care for elephants rescued from abuse.

By Sophia Ricco

When looking for a study abroad program to fill her summer with, Kaitlyn Sage knew she wanted to explore her passion of working with animals first hand in a vastly different culture.

It was when she stumbled upon Loop Abroad, a program that sends young adults age 14 to 30 to work in animal science, marine biology, and veterinary programs in other countries, that she found an experience that would meet all her needs.

Sage chose to apply for a two-week volunteer opportunity at their clinics in Thailand and was selected to go with a small team that was sent abroad. There she spent one week working at an elephant sanctuary and her second week at a dog shelter.

“I think it’s a great way to expand your knowledge of different practices,” Sage said. “Vet medicine is slightly different in Thailand than it is in the United States and it’s nice to be able to appreciate and accept the differences and similarities.”

 When she wasn't hanging with elephants, Sage got to see some of Thailand. 

When she wasn't hanging with elephants, Sage got to see some of Thailand. 

In Thailand, elephants are native and run wild, unlike in the United States where elephants can only be found in a zoo. However, many elephants have been captured, beaten, and broken for the country’s entertainment and trekking industries. The elephant sanctuary works to help these animals who have been mistreated and allowed Sage to interact with elephants in a way she had never been able to before.

“It was very interesting to see all the elephants they had at the nature park because many had injuries they had sustained working or living in horrible conditions,” Sage said. “We saw elephants with dislocated limbs and elephants whose feet were blown off because of landmines. It was really sad but it was also eye opening to see how animals are treated around the world.”

Something that was emphasized within the program was the hands on experience students gain in the clinics. Not only were they observing veterinarians diagnose and treat the elephants, but they were also able to aid the creatures.

“We got to do elephant vet rounds where we would take care of them,” Sage said. “I got to flush wounds, wrap and unwrap elephants feet that had been damaged, trim their nails on their feet and remove infections.”

Not only are veterinary practices different in Thailand, but their philosophy of life is vastly different due to the Buddhist religion. When volunteering at the elephant sanctuary, Sage experienced a vegetarian lifestyle that influenced her to remain vegetarian after returning to the United States. Also, she never had to witness an animal be put down because the veterinarians do not euthanize.

“In Thailand they don’t believe in taking any life,” Sage said. “They think that the gods have control over this.”

When Sage went to the dog shelter in her second week, she performed four different types of surgeries. She learned how to work with anesthesia and was able to spay and neuter the animals. Although, there was veterinarians there to assist them, the students were able to do the whole surgery.

“It just solidified to me that I can do it and this is what I love to do,” Sage said. “Although we were doing surgeries and causing a little bit of pain to the animal, we knew it was for a good cause. It was really rewarding to see them wake up and be healthy again.”

Hearts Of Gold Still Beating

  Jordan Belous founded her charity Whip Pediatric Cancer when she was 16 years old, and is still raising funds while in college.      Long Islander News   archive photo

Jordan Belous founded her charity Whip Pediatric Cancer when she was 16 years old, and is still raising funds while in college.   
Long Islander News archive photo

By Sophia Ricco

When Jordan Belous first uploaded a video of herself doing the whip and nae nae on Facebook three years ago, she never could have imagined the impact it would make on awareness and research for pediatric cancer.

The “Whip Pediatric Cancer Challenge” was created by the Melville teen to challenge others to dance or donate. After gaining a massive amount of views and support, Belous knew she couldn’t stop there. This is when Belous came up with Heart of Gold, a fundraiser that sends gold hearts to schools and asks the students to color the hearts and collect a minimum donation of $2.

“It’s kids helping kids. I was just a kid when I started my foundation, I was 16 years old,” Belous said. “Even if you’re young you can still make a big difference and if you have an idea then you should go for it, you’re never too young.”

Belous is now 19 years old and attends Michigan State University but has not stopped raising funds for pediatric cancer. Heart of Gold is launching its third year of sending out gold hearts and has already received requests from 400 schools. Each school will distribute hearts to kids in all grades and can collectively make a huge impact.

“It doesn’t have to be a donation of $500, it could just be donating $2,” Belous said. “But with all the money added up it goes to $200,000. That’s how I’ve raised funds, small donations add up to a lot.”

This year, Heart of Gold is taking a big step to expand its reach by opening the program to businesses that will give gold hearts to their customers in exchange for a donation. Belous hopes this will increase donations among adults while making even more people aware of pediatric cancer.

The program has also gained international support, with requests from schools in India to participate. However, Belous wants to keep pushing for more international schools so she can “see the whole world go gold”.

The current goal is set at $200,000 but Belous won’t stop there, she hopes to keep upping the goal each year. All donations collected will go to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the leading hospital in pediatric cancer research. The center conducts research on treatment options and a cure, which benefits child cancer patients across the country.

“I know all of the hospitals work together. If they run out of options in Arizona then they’ll come to Sloan Kettering or another hospital,” Belous said. “They’re all in contact with each other to get the best treatment plan for each cancer case.”

With over 72,000 followers on Facebook and over $183,000 raised, Heart of Gold has grown larger than Belous could have ever imagined. She still thinks more can be done by raising awareness. Many do not even know that September is pediatric cancer awareness month or that gold is their color of support.

“Everyone knows that pink is for breast cancer but no one knows gold is for September so we’re trying to make gold as big as pink,” Belous said.

Belous is studying kinesiology in college with hopes of becoming a therapist for pediatric oncology. She still makes time to visit local hospitals while at college, and has continued to use Facebook to spread her message.

“There’s so many bad things on Facebook, you scroll through your feed and you’re like, ‘Next. Next.’ But this is something that should be shared and people should be made aware that there’s a 4-year old laying in a hospital bed fighting for their life and they don’t know if they’ll ever get to go to kindergarten,” Belous said.

With pediatric cancer being the top cause of death from disease for U.S. children ages 5-14, Belous hopes to grow her foundation every year. From an initial goal of $10,000 to now almost raising $200,000, this is a charity that doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

“I want to raise awareness to as many people as I can possibly touch,” Belous said. “I want to raise money so there are safer and better options for pediatric cancer. I know a cure we may never know but there are things coming about that are less painful and less toxic and that’s what we need.”

Schools and businesses that are interested in having a Heart of Gold can sign up online at and will receive a kit in the mail within a week.

The Eyes Behind The Phones

 Third place image, “Lonely Picture,” by John Lazzaro

Third place image, “Lonely Picture,” by John Lazzaro

By Tatiana Belanich

Photography is the most accessible it has ever been. Everyone has a camera on their phone, yet not everyone is a photographer.

The curator of FotoFoto Gallery’s International Phone-ography Exhibition agrees. “Photographers have an eye that are unlike other people,” Beth Giacummo-Lachacz said. “I think this exhibit helps separate that the person behind the camera is the talent, not the device.”

FotoFoto Gallery is showcasing the artistry that is now at the fingertips of the masses, but as Holly Gordon, gallery member and publicity coordinator of the exhibit said, “Everyone shoots with their phones, but not every shot is a winning one.”

The Phone-ography exhibit is the product of an international competition. Giacummo-Lachacz said that the gallery received over 300 submissions, with up to five images from each applicant. Submissions came from all over the world including France, Belgium, Florida, Texas, Long Island and Manhattan.

Though Giacummo-Lachacz said it was difficult to choose, the exhibit features 31 selected images, all of which were taken with smart phones. From those, the curator selected three for awards.

Giacummo-Lachacz has been a curator for over 12 years. She is the director and curator of Farmingdale State College’s Memorial Gallery and executive director of the Patchogue Arts Council. This was her first time being a juror for FotoFoto Gallery and said she felt honored to work with them.

Giacummo-Lachacz understands the work that goes into shows like this one. “I want to thank all the artists that took the time and effort,” she said. “I am also an artist, so I appreciate the time.”

For this show, FotoFoto Gallery printed the images for the iphoneographers. Rather than printing and shipping their pieces, the participants had only to email the images. “It makes the opportunity very convenient,” Giacummo-Lachacz said. 

FotoFoto Gallery is committed to bringing awareness to photography as art, Richard Gardner, photographer and president of the gallery, said. The nonprofit organization’s stated mission is to “conduct a cooperative photographic gallery dedicated to the encouragement of the artistic development of photographers.”

The Phone-ography exhibit continues that mission. Giacummo-Lachacz believes that the pieces chosen affirm that photography is an art that requires skill – a response to the debate that anyone can be a photographer with today’s accessibility to technology.

Giacummo-Lachacz tried to choose an “interesting variety of work,” she said. She examined the pieces with attentive eyes, assessing each on basic criteria. The most frequent question she considered was, “Is the artist pushing what they can do?,” she said. 

She also evaluated images on composition and interesting subject matter.

More than 100 people attended the exhibition’s opening reception last Saturday, including out-of-state visitors from Boston, Gardner said.

“The value is immense,” said Gardner of the exhibit. “People don’t realize that the best camera you own is the one you have on you when you need it.

“My first digital camera wouldn’t do what my phone does now,” he added. “It’s just amazing.”

The Phone-ography exhibition will be on display through August 25. FotoFoto Gallery is located at 14 W Carver St., Huntington. For more information on the exhibit and the featured iphoneographers, visit

Celebrating 50 Summers Of Art

 Gala performance band -  Credit Lafiya Watson Ramirez.jpg

Gala performance band - Credit Lafiya Watson Ramirez.jpg

By Danielle Ranucci

The Usdan community celebrated a milestone and raised funds for scholarships at its 50th Anniversary Gala held July 19. The event was held on the campus of the arts-focused summer camp in Wheatley Heights and showcased the work of both current and past students.

“You come through the art show from all of our visual arts students, and then you’re seated in the McKinley amphitheater, where performing arts are showcased. After that, you’re welcomed into the tent right next to our administrative building for dinner,” said Kyra Leeds, a Usdan alumna from 2000.

The gala raised nearly $200,000 in scholarship and program funds, and honored influential members of the Usdan community, including: Elaine Panik Gates; Pattie Panik Falber; Heather Bifulco; Michelle, Megan and Amanda Marino; the Incorvaia family; the Keenan Family; Erica Kuhn (in memoriam); the Leeds family; the Lehman–DiMartino family; Debra and Dale Lewis; Andrew McKinley (in memoriam); Dr. Jerrold Ross; the Schaeffler Family; the Schecher family and the UJA – Federation of New York.

One of the honorees, Dr. Jerrold Ross, was the first president of Usdan’s Board of Trustees who helped set the tone for Usdan’s design and philosophy.

“The expression Usdan used was, ‘lose yourself for a summer and find yourself for a lifetime.’ We would accept students of all abilities in music, art and dance, to provide the highest level of experience to children who were interested or were already proficient in the arts. There was nothing like it in the country except at Interlochen [Center for the Arts],” said Ross.

Another honoree, Elaine Gates, a member of Usdan’s 1968 chorus, conducted the chorus in singing “The Rhythm of Life.”

“I had a tri-generation chorus, featuring today’s campers, their parents and their grandparents, which is what I had really envisioned for the gala,” said Gates.

Usdan was founded in 1968 by Dr. Maurice Hexter and philanthropist Samuel Lemberg with a vision of a place for teaching the arts in a summer camp setting. It was named after Lemberg’s daughter, Suzanne Usdan. Its first executive director was Andrew McKinley, a musician. He was succeeded by Dale Lewis who served for 38 years. In 2015 the current executive director, Lauren Brandt Schloss, took the reins.

 “I’m really proud of my colleagues. It’s a real delight to be a part of this community,” said Schloss.

Schloss has spearheaded programs to fulfill Usdan’s philosophy of exposing as many kids as possible to the arts.

The “Uniquely U” scholarship is awarded to 10 prospective students on the basis of merit and demonstrated passion.

Additionally, Usdan’s faculty has grown to include artists in residence such as Duke University professor Pedro Lasch and the International Contemporary Ensemble.

 “In the last couple of years we’re really pushing the envelope of what kind of art comes here,” said Schloss.

With funds from the gala, Usdan seeks to broaden its course offerings.

“We’re looking to grow a culinary arts program,” said Schloss.

Overall, the gala will enable Usdan’s growth.

“I feel like we’re always just growing,” said camper Heather Millman.

Two Bands WIth Local Roots To Play The Paramount

  Chris Davies of Huntington, left, and Jack Tangney of Rockville Centre, are The Caption, a harmonic pop duo making its Paramount debut as opening act for Even The Losers on Saturday, Aug. 11.

Chris Davies of Huntington, left, and Jack Tangney of Rockville Centre, are The Caption, a harmonic pop duo making its Paramount debut as opening act for Even The Losers on Saturday, Aug. 11.

By Peter Sloggatt

It’s Huntington night at The Paramount Aug. 11 when two bands with local ties take the stage.

Headlining the night is Even The Losers, a Tom Petty tribute band made up of Long Island-based musicians, some of whom work in the technical end of production at The Paramount. Brian Byrne of Locust Valley and Brad Cordaro of Huntington put the band together shortly after Petty’s death in Oct. 2017 as a way to honor the legacy of a songwriter and performer who had influenced them in their early years.

Byrne handles the vocals – not an easy task as anyone whose ever tried a sing-along with Petty in the car can tell you. Drummer and longtime friend Cordaro and he pulled together an eight-piece band for their first gig at The Paramount last January.

The pair said they felt a strong connection to Petty because his songs served as their introduction to music.

“We are all younger guys so Tom Petty for us was kind of the soundtrack to our childhood, so we wanted to bring back that feeling for everybody,” Byrne told Long Islander News last January.

Cordaro said the band tries to create an atmosphere of celebration on stage without trying to do a re-creation. No costumes, no wigs, no lookalikes, they instead focus on learning the music and playing it well.

“You can’t pretend to be Tom Petty,” Byrne said, with Cordaro adding, “It’s about the songs; it’s about the music.”

The pair will be among those cheering on the night’s opening act, The Caption, whose musical careers have crossed paths with Cardoro and Byrne’s.

The Caption is Chris Davey, who grew up in Huntington, and Jack Tangney of Rockville Centre. Today, both live and work in the music industry in Brooklyn, but they came together in the seemingly small world that is the Long Island music scene.

“Jack and I grew up satelliting around each other before we finally came together,” Davies said. The pair started a recording studio in Davies’ parents basement during their high shool years, and have recently been recording in the studio where Davies works. Music videos on their website ( show an almost closetlike room with Tangney at piano and Davies on guitar performing what Davies calls “piano pop, or grown-up emo, maybe.”

Tangney, with a floppy shock of red hair, is the more outgoing of the two and handles lead vocals on most of their tracks, while Davies harmonizes from across the room. But, Davies said, “we both have huge egos, so we trade off a lot.”

The pair are process-oriented, and the songs are multi-layered weavings of chords and words, but structured, thanks to Davies’ degree in jazz theory.

For the Paramount show, they’ll be joined by Peter Pearson on cello, and in an effort to make the show more accessible to a new audience, the trio will be mixing in some covers for their 45-minute set.

“We’ll just be [three] dudes trying to make as much noise as possible,” Davies said.
Tickets for Even The Losers with The Caption show cost between $20-$35 and can be purchased at the box office or online at Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show.

Huntington Fire Department Marks 175th Anniversary

By Peter Sloggatt

Huntington Fire Department members were joined by volunteers from throughout the Town of Huntington as well as from upstate New York and Connecticut as they celebrated the department’s 175th anniversary last Saturday, July 28.

Spectators got a rare look at some vintage firefighting equipment both from local departments and   from faraway places, all of it gleaming at its spit-shined best. Huntington’s own restored equipment was at the head of the parade, joined by Cold Spring Harbor’s 1924 La France pumper truck, Southampton F.D.’s ladder truck, and other vintage firetrucks. There were also some specialty pieces in the parade, like Melville F.D.’s gnarly Stump Jumper, used to  fight brush fires in wooded areas.

Officers and volunteers marched with their prized firefighting equipment, with Huntington Chief  Robert Conroy leading his department at the head of the parade. Fire departments, Huntington Community First Aid Squad followed in review, rolling to the sounds of several fire deparment bands and bagpipers from Northport Pipe and Drum, Amityville Highlanders, and NYPD’s Emerald Society keeping the beat.

The parade marched straight to the firehouse on Leverich Place where the grills were fired up, and kegs were tapped to welcome the community as well as visiting firefighters. There were also games and bouncy houses for the kids.