Manhasset Merchants Foster A Miracle

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Members of Villa Milano with Roxana Gashi and her dad, Emrullah

It starts with heart. Through Rotary’s Gift of Life program, miracles happen and dreams come true, and that was certainly true for the Gashi family. There was a day not too long ago when Emrullah Gashi, of Kosovo, thought he would be attending his young daughter’s funeral. Roxana (nicknamed Zana) Gashi, his 6-year-old daughter, was born with a congenital heart defect. There is no access to cardiac care in his home country. For him to get Roxana the surgery she needed to live would take a miracle. Roxana received her lifesaving heart surgery at St. Francis Hospital on Sept. 6. Dr. Levechuck said, “She can go home to live a normal life,” when the operation had been completed.

First, there was a fundraiser held at Americana Manhasset at the Rag and Bone store in partnership with the Manhasset Rotary Club where the Gift of Life started 42 years ago. Thirty thousand children from 78 countries have received lifesaving heart surgery since then. Over 2,000 surgeries will take place this year alone according to www.GiftofLIfeInternational.org.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, however, there were no operations, no tests, just people celebrating in their own way the miracle that had taken place here in Manhasset. The outpouring of kindness from members of the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce and Manhasset Rotary is why this community is such a great place to live and work. Roxana and her dad were escorted to a day on Plandome Road by Rotary President Kavi Misrilall, Rotary Treasurer Matthew Donno and Robbie Donno, founder of Gift of Life.

Their day started with Donald and John at Villa Milano providing Roxana with a combination of pizza (her personal favorite) along with Chicken Francese (Emrullah’s favorite). Donald and John speak Albanian, which made them feel like they had gone home for an hour.

Next was Adelina’s Salon Boutique, where Zana received a day of beauty and relaxation. Adelina speaks Albanian as well so, once again, Zana was made to feel at home.

Then there was Matty’s Toy Store, where she was given gifts to take home for her and her family. Zana walked up and down the rows of toys carefully selecting something that would be appropriate. Little Zana at the age of 6 is an entrepreneur and picked out a cash register to bring back with her. A very practical item.

To finish the perfect day, Zana was treated to every conceivable candy treat at Chocolate Works. Stephanie Solomon, owner and co-president of the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, taught her how to make chocolate. She enjoyed the delicious lesson and served herself, her dad and the members of Manhasset Rotary that attended.

Gashi expressed his many thanks to all. His daughter came here to have her heart fixed and he was thankful for the miracle that she had received. He didn’t expect her heart to be filled with the kind love demonstrated by the merchants on Plandome Road.

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Port Washington News, special features including the Business Quarterly column, Manhasset Magazine, Pride In Port, Port Washington News, Port Gift Guide and other special sections. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community newspaper" several years in a row.

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