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Genesee Cancer Assistance

Blue Devils prevail in 'Strikeout Cancer' game against Greece

By Staff Writer
batavia softball pink game

Wearing pink uniform T-shirts, the Batavia Blue Devils "Struck Out" on Friday to raise $1,900 for Genesee Cancer Assistance.

The softball team also beat Greece 8-2.

Giana Mruczek had Greece's hitters striking out plenty of times, recording nine whiffs and giving up only four hits.


  • Hannah Carney, 2-3, 2 RBIs
  • Sophia Minuto, 1-2, 2 RBIs
  • Libby Grazioplene, doubled
  • Drew Stevens, 1-2 
  • Kyleigh Kabel had a 2 RBI double 

Submitted photos.

batavia softball pink game

Genesee Cancer Assistance planning a fun-filled bowling event on March 2

By Press Release

Updated Feb. 23: EVENT CANCELED

Press Release:

Genesee Cancer Assistance (GCA) is adding a new fundraising event on March 2. The Bowling Event will be a fun-filled day of bowling, contests, and shenanigans supporting GCA! This event is for everyone, so bring your friends and family! 

The event will take place at Strikeforce Lanes, 49 S. Pearl St., Oakfield. To accommodate everyone, there are three shifts available: noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. Entry for teams of four is $120 and teams can register online at 

There will also be additional raffles, including a cooler of booze available, and Rusty Rail Bar & Grill will be offering food and drink specials! Come out and have some fun while supporting GCA. All money raised will stay in Genesee County.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available! Can’t make it to bowl? You can still support the event as a sponsor. Lane sponsors will have their sign above each lane for the duration of the event at $150, with only twelve available!

Additionally, Strike and Spare sponsorships are available, please visit the website or contact Event Coordinator, Kathy Antinore, at

For more information about this event, future events, our services, or how to volunteer, please visit or call the office at (585) 345-0417.

Movember campaign raises money for Genesee Cancer Assistance

By Press Release
batavia pd movember

Press Release:

The Batavia Police Department has closed out the Movember campaign for 2023. The department raised $1,700 for Genesee Cancer Assistance with 19 members participating. Pictured are a few members who participated in the campaign with leadership from Genesee Cancer Assistance. 

Genesee Cancer Assistance, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, co-founded in 1995 by Mrs. Dorothy Schlaggel & Mr. Russ Romano. Their shared desire was to create an organization through which cancer patients living in Genesee County could have access to financial aid and a variety of support services. Since its founding, Genesee Cancer Assistance has been able to assist thousands of individuals; helping hundreds of patients each year.  

The Movember Worldwide Campaign started in 2003 in Australia and has since grown. Movember was created to bring awareness to Men’s Health; specifically, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.

Pink Box Fundraiser at Main St. Pizza raises $2,800 for Genesee Cancer Assistance

By Howard B. Owens
Main St. Pizza Company owner Vic Marchese presented a check this week to Genesee Cancer Assistance for $2,816, proceeds from his annual Pink Box Fundraiser.  Each October, Main St. delivers its pizzas in pink boxes, and each sale yields a donation to Genesee Cancer Assistance.  Pictured from left, Marchese, with board members Shirley Puleo, Maryann Haigh, Nick Grasso and Executive Director Sue Underwood.
Photo by Howard Owens

Batavia volleyball teams raise $2,200 for Genesee Cancer Assistance

By Howard B. Owens
volleyball pink game batavia high school

For the  second year on Tuesday, Batavia High School's volleyball teams, varsity and JV, hosted a "pink game" to raise money in support of Genesee Cancer Assistance.

The teams raised $2,200.

Statement provided by Sarah Gahagan:

Nick Grasso graciously accepted this donation on behalf of Genesee Cancer Assistance.  He reminded all spectators of how important it is to help out locally whenever possible. He reminded the spectators how expensive travel, treatment and other things people battling this disease need on a daily basis and how grateful our local recipients are to have events like this in their honor.

We would like to thank all of our local sponsors for donating baskets to support our team. 

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

batavia hs pink game volleyball
batavia hs pink game volleyball
batavia hs pink game volleyball
batavia hs pink game volleyball
batavia hs pink game volleyball
batavia hs pink game volleyball


BPD raises $1,560 for Genesee Cancer Assistance in Movember

By Press Release

Press release:

The Batavia Police Department has closed out the Movember / Don’t Shave December campaigns for 2022. The department was able to raise $1,560 for Genesee Cancer Assistance. Department members would like to thank the community for their support and donations.

The Movember Worldwide Campaign started in 2003 in Australia and has since grown. Movember was created to bring awareness to Men’s Health, specifically, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.

Submitted photo.

GCA dinner highlights love and support necessary to help people in treatment for cancer

By Howard B. Owens

Cancer has diminished the speaking voice of Antonia Richenburg but now her spirit, as she made clear at the annual dinner of Genesee Cancer Assistance at Batavia Downs on Saturday night.

Richenburg was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinomas on her right vocal chord in the Fall of 2013.  The following February she was referred to Genesee Cancer Assistance.

"Genesee Cancer Assistance has been a wonderful asset," Antonia said through her daughter Carson, who read her speech. "When I was confused and not able to find the answers I needed, the staff at Genesee Cancer Assistance were there to help out by doing their best to answer my questions. They even made the process of receiving financial assistance during my struggle with cancer a stress-free process."

It has been her family who has been her strength, though, she said.

"Although this has been a rough road for me, I never gave up," she said. "I have a strong support system. My family has been my biggest supporter, with more love and encouragement than anyone has ever asked for. I would have never survived without my husband, Eric, and my children, Todd, his wife, Rachel, and my daughters, Kearson and Carson."

She added later to encompass her entire support entourage, including her doctors, "the love and support of these people kept me focused on what's important."

And ended with advice for anyone diagnosed with cancer.

"Love and support are definitely needed," she said. "It will help keep you alive."

Photos by Howard Owens

Tami Burbules, also a cancer survivor, thanked Genesee Cancer Assistance for its support after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021.

Dorothy Schlaggel, a founder of Genesee Cancer Assistance, received a standing ovation when she was introduced.

Schlaggel said the idea for Genesee Cancer Assistance came after she and some others attended the Relay for Life in Rochester and they decided they didn't want to make that trip anymore so they started the Festival of Hope Walk to raise money to help battle cancer.

"There are a lot of our volunteers who are still volunteering, and it's been 30 years or more," Schlaggel said. "And all I've got to say is Genesee Cancer Assistance has the best volunteers ever and this place is fantastic."

Before the speeches, the volunteers were recognized, including, above, Mary Valle and Martha Woodruff.

Sue Underwood applauds Antonia Richenburg after her speech. Soon the whole room was on its feet applauding.

Paul Figlow was master of ceremonies.


The cash door prize was awarded by a process of elimination.  Everybody had a little lighted trinket and if your number was called, you turned off your light. At the time this picture was taken, just before The Batavian left, there were 61 lights still on.

Genesee Cancer Assistance Night at the Downs Nov. 19

By Joanne Beck

Tickets are available through Monday for the annual Genesee Cancer Assistance Night at the Downs to honor volunteers who have devoted time and energy for the nonprofit.

The evening is to include a basket raffle, buffet dinner and recognition of volunteers. Doors open at 4 p.m., with appetizers at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. Nov. 19 at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel on Park Road, Batavia.

 A cash bar will be available, and raffle winners will be drawn after dinner.

Tickets are $35, which includes $25 Free Play. To purchase tickets, call 585-345-0417 or order online

BHS volleyball team raises $1,100 for Genesee Cancer Assistance

By Howard B. Owens

The Batavia High School volleyball team held their first "pink game" this season, raising $1,100 for Genesee Cancer Assistance.

"We just wanted to do this because it's something that stays in Genesee County, and it's really good to just have the money stay here and benefit our community," said team captain Olivia Shell.

Head Coach James Patric said he expects pink games to become annual events to benefit Genesee Cancer Assistance. There will be more advance planning next season, he said, with a goal of raising $3,000 to $3,500.

"It's amazing to have them want to reach out and do this for us," said Nickie Fazio. "This money is going to be so beneficial to our patients. We're just very grateful. And if they want to do this next year, we're more than happy to help them."

Fun in the sun for players in 27th Annual Genesee Cancer Assistance Golf Tournament

By Howard B. Owens

It was a perfect day for 18 holes of golf yesterday at Terry Hills, which hosted the 27th Annual Genesee Cancer Assistance Golf Tournament.

Director Sue Underwood said the tournament last year raised $28,000 and this year they hoped to raise more than $30,000.

"We're hopeful we will be over 30, but we're thankful for whatever we make," she said.

The tournament is the non-profit's main fundraiser for the year. The funds are used to provide assistance to cancer patients.

This year 36 teams participated, and sponsorships increased from 52 a year ago to 62 this year.  There were more than 200 prizes, either door prizes or auction items, available to participants. 

Top photo: Ron Puccio stripes his ball down the middle of the fairway to get his tournament, and his team, off to a good start.  His team (next three photos) included Dan Voltura, Fred Hamilton, and Ed Priestley.

Photos by Howard Owens.

Bill Utter, in orange shirt, last year's 50-50 drawing winner, gets ready to draw the 2022 winner, while Sue Underwood and Chris Rumfola look on.

Genesee Cancer Assistance announces 27th tournament for July 30

By Press Release

Press release:

Genesee Cancer Assistance will hold its’ 27th Annual Golf Tournament Saturday, July 30th at Terry Hills Golf Course in Batavia. Join us for an 18 hole scramble, shotgun start at 1pm. $120 per golfer includes a cart, lunch, registration gift, dinner with awards, door prizes and raffles following golf! Registration deadline is July 22nd. We are already more than halfway full so don’t wait to register @ or call (585)345-0417

Genesee Cancer Assistance has assisted in helping hundreds of patients each year since its founding, offering services free of charge for those living in Genesee County. GCA relies on successful fundraisers like our annual golf tournament, donations and community support to continue their mission. Genesee Cancer Assistance offers each cancer patient $600 of financial assistance to help lessen the burden that comes with a cancer diagnosis.

For more information on this event and/or to sign up online at or call the office (585)345-0417 

Photo: File Photo from the 2016 tournament by Howard Owens.

Batavia PD raised $1,730 for Genesee Cancer Assistance

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Batavia Police Department has closed out the Mo-Vember / Don’t Shave December campaigns for 2021.

The department was able to raise $1,730 for Genesee Cancer Assistance. Members of the department would like to thank the community for their support and donations.

The Mo-Vember Worldwide Campaign started in 2003 in Australia and has since grown. Mo-vember was started to bring awareness to Men’s Health; specifically, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.


Photo provided by the Batavia Police Department

Deputies association raises $1,900 for Genesee Cancer Assistance in 'Movember'

By Howard B. Owens

The Genesee County Deputy Sheriff's Association, in cooperation with Sheriff William Sharon, raised $1,900 for Genesee Cancer Assistance in 'Movember.'

Members of the association were allowed to grow beards in November in exchange for a $100 donation to GCA.  In total, 19 members of the association participated.

Everyone -- from volunteers, donors and directors to staff and patients -- comes together for 25th GCA celebration

By Joanne Beck

Nickie Fazio has no problem remembering when she joined the board of Genesee Cancer Assistance; it was in March 2017.

The year was to become an important one for Fazio, who had already lost her mother to ovarian cancer.

“I found out I had breast cancer the following month," she said Saturday evening during GCA’s 25th anniversary celebration. “This is something we had a need for in this area."

As a volunteer, former patient, board member and now current board president, Fazio encompasses nearly every facet of the organization that's integral to its success. Organization members celebrated those aspects throughout the evening at Batavia Downs Gaming with running slideshows; words of remembrance, recognition and hope; and relishing the nonprofit’s success to date. 

GCA’s humble beginnings were in 1995, founded as Genesee Cancer Care by Dorothy Schlaggel and Russ Romano. Both Schlaggel and Romano were unavailable to be at the event and shared some thoughts through letters sent to the board. Romano, a Batavia-based realtor, recalled a day in February 1995 when his friend Dorothy stopped in to see him. A cancer survivor herself, Schlaggel talked about her vision to establish a grassroots cancer organization after American Cancer Society closed its local doors here. 

At one point, Romano asked her “Why are you telling me this?” She explained that he knows a lot of people, and is organized, so she thought he’d be the perfect partner for this endeavor. He agreed, and they never looked back. 

Festival of Hope was the kick-off fundraiser, and it not only raised money but also awareness about the agency and what it was doing. Over the years that idea has been transformed into what the GCA has become today, he said.

Schlaggel wrote that two key events — Festival of Hope and GCA’s golf tournament — made that transformation possible. A gradual flow of contributions from other charitable organizations and "tremendous community support" allowed the effort to flourish, she said.

“I would like to say to all who give their time, effort and support to this worthy organization, thank you and God bless,” she said. 

Both Batavia residents had a shared desire to create an organization so that cancer patients living in Genesee County would have access to financial aid and a variety of support services. That first year brought in eight patients and gave them $945 for their out-of-pocket expenses. 11 years later there were 140 patients per year and financial assistance of more than $52,000. Now GCA serves nearly as many — 100 to 120 people — per month, and provides $600 a person and free admission to the Simply Beautiful program. 

More than two and a half decades have brought with them golf tournaments, spaghetti dinners, basket raffles, picnics, grants and other special projects. All totaled, those efforts have meant more than $1 million raised and dispersed to 2,000 patients. Financial assistance is provided to cancer patients to offset medical costs, trips to related medical facilities, prescriptions and Simply Beautiful, a program to assist cancer patients with the negative effects of cancer treatment on one’s hair and skin. 

Enter Joseph “Joe” Gerace, a city hair stylist who not only founded Simply Beautiful, but also became the face and heart of the program. He instructed cancer patients how to apply makeup and use and care for wigs as they dealt with cancer treatment’s physical effects. He also, apparently nudged people into getting involved before they knew what was happening.

“He’s special to a lot of people,” Master of Ceremonies Paul Figlow said. “Joe has a funny way of asking people … Joe doesn’t say would you mind being on the board of GCA? No. He said, Paul you’re on the board. He’s in our thoughts always.”

Gerace’s daughter, Karen Rowland, embraced her dad’s giving spirit as she shared how he would feel.

“He would be so proud of all of you, he would be so ecstatic,” she said to the crowd of 215 people. “Growing up I was raised knowing and hearing about Genesee Cancer Assistance. His involvement was in so many things, but especially Genesee Cancer Assistance and the Simply Beautiful program, which he created.”

Just for the occasion, she listed his attributes as they fit into the spelling of his name: J is for juggler, and “a heart so involved in so many organizations;” O is for having an open-door policy and being ready to talk and plan out the next new event; S for selfless, which was so evident by his presence at so many events; E for encourager; P for passionate; and H for helping others. And G as in Gerace, she said, "For get ‘er done." Her father "touched the lives of everyone he came in contact with," she said.

Event participants agreed. From Figlow and Fazio to volunteer Diane Martino, they all had Gerace to thank for bringing them on board with GCA.

“He’s one of the most wonderful, caring men I’ve ever met,” Fazio said. “He was so passionate about everything he did, and about the Simply Beautiful program. I know Joe would be so incredibly proud.”

She began to volunteer in 2015 before joining the board in 2017 and becoming president two years ago. Fazio was recruited to help Gerace, and readily admits that “wig care is not the same as hair care,” which makes the lessons so valuable to patients. When Gerace died in 2016, Fazio became even more involved with the program, she said.

"He motivated me to come and volunteer and help out," she said. 

Martino and her husband were friends with Gerace, and learned about the work he did at GCA.

“I just came and did stuff,” she said.  “It’s to help give back to the community.”

There’s a joke about her being a “poster child” for the agency, she said. It’s a literal term, since she has been seen so many times taping up event posters throughout town. Martino even brings along her own tape. She wants no specific recognition of herself, but of the group as a whole, she said.

Proclamations from Genesee County, New York State Assembly and Senate offices, and the City of Batavia took care of that. Each one recognized the efforts of GCA and its importance to the community. Genesee County Legislator Shelley Stein, who has battled cancer, added her own words to the proclamation's text.

“Those of us in this room will always remember the day of our diagnosis,” she said. “I’ve come to learn that hope lives in Genesee Cancer Assistance, and hope works through the people in this room. And our community is blessed.” 

Attendees at the 25th Genesee Cancer Assistance celebration Saturday enjoy dinner, take photos and listen to speakers Saturday at Batavia Down Gaming, including Genesee County Legislator Shelley Stein, in top photo presenting a proclamation to GCA Board President Nickie Fazio, GCA Executive Director Sue Underwood, Sue Underwood with volunteer Diane Martino, Karen Rowland, longtime GCA board member Dr. Roger Mudd and Master of Ceremonies Paul Figlow. Photos by Howard Owens

Celebrating 25 years, Genesee Cancer Assistance hosts dinner this weekend

By Joanne Beck

After a year’s delay of celebrating the 25-year existence of Genesee Cancer Assistance — which means founders, board members, patients and volunteers — the nonprofit will finally have its day.

The organization’s dinner celebration is at 5 p.m. Saturday at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road, Batavia. 

“When we realized it was 25 years, we thought this was a great way to celebrate,” Executive Director Sue Underwood said Saturday to The Batavian. “It’s not a fundraiser, just a dinner celebration … where we could give back to the community for all their help and support. We will recognize the board, volunteers and patients that are there, and local businesses and community supporters will be recognized.”

Not an unfamiliar scenario during this past year, GCA had to postpone plans for an annual event in 2020 due to Covid-19’s impact on large and public gatherings. So it is actually 26 years old now, after being founded in 1995 by Dorothy Schlaggel and Russ Romano.

The duo had a shared objective to create an organization to assist cancer patients in Genesee County with access to financial aid and other related supportive services. The hundreds helped each year have turned into thousands of people able to obtain financial assistance for costs associated with their diagnosis and treatment, GCA’s website states. 

This assistance includes expenses related to prescriptions, medical co-pays, transportation to and from medical facilities, home health care and related equipment and child care. The organization also provides biblical counseling, support groups, informative materials and the Simply Beautiful program, created to help cancer patients with personalized advice for how to deal with the side effects of treatment on their hair and skin.

Appetizers and beverages are to begin at 5 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner at 6 p.m., and the program from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Paul Figlow will serve as master of ceremonies, and Karen Rowland is to speak in memory of her father and huge GCA supporter, Joseph Gerace. Music, assorted memorabilia and, perhaps, some live racing or casino action may fill part of the evening, Underwood said. 

There will be giveaways of gift cards, centerpieces and themed baskets throughout the event, she said. 

“November is a time to be thankful, and it’s really to show people that we’re thankful for the community support,” she said.
Tickets are $35, including $25 of Free Play, and are available through Sunday, Nov. 14, as a total count must be turned in by Monday. To order, go to

Merrill Lynch's $5,000 donation sets stage for 25th anniversary party for Genesee Cancer Assistance

By Press Release

Press release:

Genesee Cancer Assistance, Inc., is proud to acknowledge Merrill Lynch as a $5,000 corporate sponsor in recognition of the nonprofit agency's 25 years of serving cancer patients in Genesee County.

A 25th Anniversary Celebration is scheduled for Nov. 20 at the Park Place Banquet Room at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., with appetizers at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m., followed with a special recognition program and music.

Tickets are $35 each and include $25 in free play at the casino. Tickets are presale only and available for purchase until Nov. 12 by calling the office at (585) 345-0417 or online at:

More information can be found at

The event will be an acknowledgment of GCA’s community supporters, dedicated volunteers and the cancer patients it serves.

Photo: From left, Cal Klemmer of the Merrill Lynch office; GCA Executive Director Sue Underwood, volunteers Shirley Puleo and Teresa Potrzebowski, and GCA Board President Nickie Fazio. Photo by Alecia Kaus.

Genesee Cancer Assistance announces 25th anniversary celebration

By Press Release

Press release:

Genesee Cancer Assistance is pleased to announce the upcoming celebration in honor of their service to Genesee County.

Founded in 1995, the organization’s goal has been to help alleviate some of the difficulties experienced by cancer patients, their families, and caregivers.  GCA provides financial assistance and free support services to those residents affected by cancer in Genesee County.

During the past 26 years, GCA has been able to assist thousands of individuals!

This belated 25th Anniversary Celebration is scheduled for Saturday, November 20th at the newly renovated Batavia Downs Park Place.  The evening is designed to thank our many sponsors and supporters, recognize the many dedicated volunteers who make GCA possible, and honor those impacted by cancer. 

Please join us for this special evening. Doors open at 4:30 pm with appetizers at 5:00 pm and dinner served at 6:00 pm. (Cash bar available). Tickets for the dinner event can be purchased by contacting (585) 345-0417 or  The ticket price of $35.00 includes appetizers, a delicious buffet dinner, coffee/tea, and dessert.  This price also includes $25 in free play to enjoy at the casino!

Reserve your tickets now through Friday, November 12th.

Sponsored Post: Genesee Cancer Assistance wishes to thank the community

By Lisa Ace

On behalf of Genesee Cancer Assistance Board of Directors and the 2021 Golf Committee, we want to extend a special thank you for the overwhelming commitment of our sponsors, local businesses, the community and golfers, for your support and donations in making our 26th Annual Golf Tournament at Terry Hills Golf Course such a success! 

This year’s event was our OUR MOST SUCCESSFUL GOLF TOURNAMENT EVER, raising over $28,000! We were fortunate to have the tremendous support of 52 sponsors, 152 golfers and approximately 200 items and gift certificates donated for our raffles and prizes! Please know that your contribution played a very important part in making our tournament a successful fundraiser for Genesee Cancer Assistance! 

The funds generated from this event will allow GCA to continue to provide financial assistance and free service to cancer patients as they battle this terrible disease. Your commitment and giving to our cause is greatly appreciated and we are thankful for your generosity to our organization.

As always, we appreciate your generosity and dedication to our mission! We’re looking forward to the 27th Annual Golf Tournament on Saturday, July 30, 2022. Watch for more information to follow on our website ( and Facebook Page

Genesee Cancer Assistance 26th Annual Golf Tournament

By Robert Brown

Genesee Cancer Assistance will hold its 26th Annual Golf Tournament at Terry Hills Golf Course, 5122 Clinton Street Road, Batavia, NY on Saturday, July 31, 2021.  The golf tournament is now full, but the putting contest (11:00AM-1:00PM) is open - enter for a chance to win a chair from Max Pies!

Funds raised assist cancer patients in Genesee County.

Visit to sponsor.  Call 585-345-0417 for information or to donate.

Event Date and Time

Batavia's Original Genesee Cancer Assistance Benefit Night

By Robert Brown

Help cancer patients in Genesee County when you dine at Batavia's Original (500 East Main Street in Batavia) on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 11AM-10PM.  A portion of the day's total sales (dine-in or carryout) will be donated to Genesee Cancer Assistance. Please call 585-345-0417 for more information.

Event Date and Time

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