Victims Of MS-13 Help Give Life

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Two-year-old Ricardo Adonay Murga and 7-year-old Johana Elizabeth Reyes of El Salvador had lifesaving open-heart surgery thanks to the generous donors to the Rotary’s Gift of Life Program, who met the parents of Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, Brentwood teenagers whose lives were cut short by members of the notorious MS-13 gang in September 2016.

The Brentwood Challenge is a community humanitarian effort led by the Brentwood Rotary Club partnered with the Gift of Life International. The parents of the Mickens and Cuevas families are determined to turn their tragedies into stories of survival for other families. The initial goal of the Challenge Committee was to raise $50,000 to save the lives of 10 Salvadoran children in need of heart surgery. This goal includes the two children who represent the lives and memory of Mickens and Cuevas and who will be the first two children to receive heart surgery through the efforts of the Brentwood Challenge.

The parents of Mickens and Cuevas have traveled to Washington, D.C., met with President Trump on his visits to Long Island, and are committed to raising funds in their daughters’ memories in order to support vital heart surgery for children who would otherwise be unable to access this sophisticated level of care.

Funds have been raised in memory of Mickens and Cuevas to support 25 additional pediatric surgeries on children from around the world over the next year. Children from Kosovo, Romania, Haiti, Uganda and El Salvador will benefit from the outpouring of generosity in Mikens and Cuevas’ names.

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Manhasset Press Magazine. 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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