Kings Highway ice cream truck driver is serving up more than just sweet treats this week by hosting an indulgent fundraiser for a sick Brooklyn teen.
Maria “The Ice Cream Girl” Campanella will throw the 2nd annual Famous Ice Cream Eating Contest in Manhattan Beach to raise money for Ciro Patalano, an 18-year-old diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia.
“Ciro is a customer who I've known for many years on the route. When I found out that he got sick, it took me about a day of thinking about him to come up with the idea,” said Campanella. She has been garnering sponsors and collecting money for Patalano ever since.
“Treatment and hospital bills can be a lot and I want to help him out. I’m gonna donate every penny to this kid.”
Though the daily chemical and radiation treatments have become both physically and emotionally taxing for Patalano, his family said that it is doing some good. And with the unsolicited help of his neighbors, Patalano can see his treatment through.
On Friday, July 25 at 1 p.m., Patalano will arrive via limousine and sit atop a red throne as the day’s guest of honor. Though the ice cream eating contest will only have about a dozen contestants, the beachfront turnout is expected to be huge.
Admission is $20 with all proceeds going to Patalano, but the first and second place winners of the contest will receive $200 and $75 gift certificates for, what else, more ice cream.
But the sponsors realize it would be nothing short of cruel for attendees to just watch someone else eat ice cream. So Italian ices, cotton candy, popcorn and ice cream, donated by Ben & Jerry’s, Marino’s and Aardvark Amusements, will be given out all afternoon. Music will also be provided by Brooklyn DJ F2K to make it a thoroughly homegrown event.
Campanella, the ice cream authority from Kings Highway to Avenue U for the last 25 years, is very encouraged by the neighborhood’s enthusiasm.
“All the communities from the route are coming out to support Ciro,” she said. “I’m here seven days a week. I live with them. You know what? We had to do something for him.”
Soon after she came up with the idea, Campanella approached Senator Marty Golden for his support and he too jumped at the chance.
“The event benefits a very worthy cause; to show Ciro Patalano that our community supports this young man in his battle against leukemia,” Golden said.
“On the beach of Kingsborough Community College, a perfect setting, Brooklyn will join together for a fun afternoon with a great purpose.”
The 2nd annual Famous Ice Cream Eating Contest is July 25 at 1 p.m. on the beach of Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Blvd.). To register for the contest, to donate, or for more information, call Maria “The Ice Cream Girl” Campanella at 917-578-6374. To be a contestant, you must call before July 20.