A fundraiser for a Southold resident and former firefighter battling terminal cancer is scheduled for Friday night at the Flanders Men's Club, organized by his former co-workers in the criminal justice system.
Chris Lamendola worked as a court officer for 22 years – in Queens, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties – before retiring due to stage four cancer. The early retirement, said a former colleague of his, came as a difficult decision – if Lamendola passed away before retiring, his family would be ineligible for medical benefits. The result has been a smaller pension for which to pay his own medical costs.
"He was kind of in a pickle," said Capt. Dave Mylett, who worked with Lamendola for 22 years. "And now as a result, his pension – between penalties and other issues – is extremely small. It's definitely not something to live on, on Long Island."
Mylett and other court officers have rallied together to hold a Chinese auction Friday night. A $20 cover charge includes food, beer, wine, soda and live entertainment. Over 120 items are up for auction – and an iPad, as well as $1,000 in gift cards will be raffled off – and Mylett said that as of Thursday over 100 people were signed up to come to the event. However the poor weather could deter walk-ins.
"That's one of the great things about this job," said Capt. Denise Dietler, who worked with Lamendola at Suffolk County Court in Riverside for about seven years before transferring to Central Islip. "With such a big community of people, comes a lot of camraderie. So when we have to band together to do something for somebody in need, we can pull together."
Mylett said Lamendola was granted an act of heroism award for saving someone's life in a courtroom, and assisted in rescue and recovery efforts following 9-11.
Friday night's event will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. and all proceeds will benefit the family.
For more information, contact Officer Diane Montes (631-852-2614), Officer Nick Tabile (631-525-7185), Capt. Denise Zeitler (631-853-4630), or Capt. Dave Mylett (631-813-8316).