The Frank J. Reali III Family Foundation is on a mission: provide supportive funds for echocardiograms or other heart baseline testing to all Staten Island eighth graders, prior to entering high school sports. 

The Foundation will present its fourth annual memorial dinner “Saving One Young Heart at a Time!” on Monday June 6 at Li Greci’s Staaten at 697 Forest Ave.  Reservations are $100 per person and can be made by calling 718.420.2331 or emailing

Fran and Frank Reali’s life changed in 2007 when their beloved son Frank J. Reali III, a former student of the College of Staten Island, passed away in his sleep from sudden cardiac arrest (SCD).  SCD affects more than 400,000 people every year in the United States and is the leading cause of death among young athletes, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. 

“We recently performed electrocardiograms (ECGs) on 40 eighth graders on Staten Island,” commented Fran Reali, “and four of them were found to have an issue, or defect, with their heart.  Our goal is to test every eighth grader and high school student on Staten Island to help prevent another tragedy, and with your support, we will accomplish this goal and help save lives and spare other families from tragedy.“

Although physical examination, including cardiac auscultation, is already required of students participating in team sports under the auspices of the NYC Public School Athletic League, this approach could miss cardiac abnormalities that can predispose to sudden cardiac death. Through the performance of ECGs and screening echocardiograms, rhythm disturbances of the heart as well as abnormalities of size, thickness, and function of the left ventricle, aortic valve, and aorta, will be detected. “These tests provide important information for student-athletes and their families, and we hope to make them part of the mandatory school physical process,” noted Reali, “as the presence of these conditions could be catastrophic during extreme physical exertion.”

WCBS-FM 101.1 radio host Joe Causi will emcee the event. The “Heart of a Champion” awards will be presented to 11 recipients. They are:  Ralph M. Branca, president and CEO of both Victory State Bank and its holding company, VSB Bancorp; Lisa Salsberg, founder and CEO of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, a national support center for families prone to sudden cardiac arrest; Jack LiGreci, president of the Staaten Restaurant, West Brighton; Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island); Anthony Palmieri, founder of Veritas Imaging, a mobile ultrasound company providing cardiovascular testing; Donna Maxon, a Bette Midler tribute artist and president of Tribute Entertainment; Roselle Farina-Hecht, publisher of Staten Island Parent magazine and Family Resource Publications; Steven Gattullo of New Springville, the owner-operator of the Zoo Café and Gift Shop; Diane Morton-Gattullo, a paraprofessional at PS 29, Castleton Corners; Genevieve R. Benoit and Diane M. Buglioli, founders of A Very Special Place, which provides a continuum of services to children and adults who have a developmental disability. 

The Frank J Reali III Family Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Visit the Foundation’s Website  for more information.