Team of the Week

Team Pink Party


Founded by a mother, re-launched by her daughter — both breast cancer survivors

In 1999, Barbara Vernale, a breast cancer survivor, started a Komen Greater NYC Race team. In 2010, after her daughter Lisa Vernale Fusco was diagnosed, the team was named Team Pink Party with Fusco becoming its captain. Last year, the team had 20 members and raised $16,000. This year its fundraising goal is $10,000.

“My mother — a two-time breast cancer survivor — got our family walking in the Race 14 years ago, and we’ve been doing so ever since,” said Fusco. Last year, Fusco was Komen Greater NYC’s Survivor of the Year and her father, Michael Vernale, was honored as Co-Survivor of the Year.

Pink Party

Lisa Vernale Fusco with her parents,
brothers and husband at the 2011
Race finish line.

Fusco was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer at the age of 26. Recently married, she had just two-and-one-half weeks to absorb the shock of her diagnosis. Over six months, she underwent four major surgeries, fertility treatments and four months of chemotherapy. During chemo, Fusco decided to give back, so she not only gave the team a new name, but also started hosting Lisa’s Pink Party — an annual summer team fundraiser at Belmont Racetrack. Last year’s event had 200 attendees and raised over $12,000.

The team is made up of family and friends. Members include four cancer survivors — Fusco, her mother, her mother’s best friend Janet Russo and her father, who is a prostate cancer survivor. Any friend or family member who wants to walk with the team is welcome.

“Each year, there are some new faces,” said Fusco, “ which is awesome, since the team includes everyone who wants to show their love and support.” Team members besides Fusco include her parents and brothers — who have walked every year and, according to Fusco, are her biggest supporters. And, of course her husband Eugene, who Fusco described as “…the most amazing person in the world; my rock and strength every step of the way.”

Team Pink Party uses Facebook as its primarily fundraising tool. “It’s been a huge help,” explained Fusco. She also has created a website, lisaspinkparty.com, which allows visitors to donate directly to the team on its Komen Greater NYC Race team web page. A majority of the team’s funds are raised through Lisa’s Pink Party, which this year is scheduled for Saturday, June 30th.

When asked about the team’s favorite memory, Fusco responded that every year is special for different reasons. “Since day one — whether you walk or run — we have waited for each other and crossed the finish line together with my mom,” she explained. “It’s the best part of the day, followed by my dad’s brunch!”