Whether dealing in the deli business, public safety, education, or philanthropy, the Collura family is well known for their willingness to step up in the spirit of service. This spring, they will be adding a new dimension to their commitment through the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation’s 18th annual “Cooking for a Cure” dinner at the Crescent Beach Club in Bayville at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10.
East Rockaway’s Ronald and Rachel Collura, the owners of Arata’s Deli and Caterers in Sea Cliff since 2003, are being honored alongside their family for their collective contributions to DRI’s pursuit of a cure. It is also a testament to their personal connection to the cause, which emerged after their grandson Giovanni was diagnosed with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes.
“I went into the hospital for an operation. When I got out, Jonathan, my third oldest son, who is a cop in Nassau County Bureau of Special Operations, took me for my second checkup after the surgery,” Ronald said. During the doctor visit, Jonathan told his father, “I don’t know what’s the matter with Giovanni. He wakes up in the morning and the bed is soaked with sweat.”
After his grandson went to the doctor later that week with the flu, he was rushed to the hospital, where the diagnosis of juvenile diabetes was made. Soon after, they had a conversation with Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, a Diabetes Research Institute Long Island board member, placing the Collura family on a journey of learning and opening the door to advocacy. Quickly, a relationship that began with conversations about septic system rebates and first responders became much more.
“She started calling people — she got in touch with Vicki (my daughter-in-law), telling her things to do and reassuring us –- ‘don’t worry, he’s going to be fine,’” Ronald said. That Christmas, there was special delivery of toys for Gio and an invitation to the 2023 DRI dinner. All of it gave the Collura family a glance into the hopeful future that was right around the corner.
“He’s doing good — he’s four, and full of energy. I babysit and watch the numbers — it’s all something new to me,” Ronald said of his grandson, adding that the experience brought an important new perspective for his family. “It opened up something new to me and my wife — we never looked at diabetes and, all of a sudden, I hear about it constantly.”
The Collura family’s new role with DRI is a natural extension of their commitment to service — Ronald is an ex-captain of the East Rockaway Fire Department and ex-president of the Kiwanis Club of East Rockaway. His children are also active in the service fields as well – in addition to a police officer, there is a Roslyn Fire Department Chief, a teacher, court officer and an LIRR conductor.
“During the last two decades, it has been an absolute privilege to help the Collura family and so many others like them as they come to terms with a diabetes diagnosis in their family,” said DeRiggi-Whitton, who became an outspoken advocate for diabetes awareness, treatment and research after her daughter Amanda was diagnosed with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes at age three. “By getting involved, sharing their stories, and giving back, the Collura family is serving as a beacon of hope and showing the world that there is tremendous hope to be found in the days ahead. I cannot wait for them to be honored at this year’s dinner, and I encourage everyone to save the date for this wonderful event.”
Generous supporters of this event include the Peter & Jeri Dejana Family Foundation and Keith Way. The gala will continue a tradition of special cooking demonstrations by surprise chefs, a martini tasting bar, live music, and dozens of fabulous raffle and silent auction prizes. Throughout its run, Cooking for a Cure has raised more than $1 million for the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, which leads the world in cure-focused research. The research behind their BioHub, a bioengineered “mini organ” that mimics the function of the native pancreas, has seen great success in clinical trials.
Tickets are $125. For additional information or to purchase tickets, raffles, and sponsorships online, visit cookingforacure.givesmart.com. Contact Team DRI Development Manager Mariah Moscone at 954-964-4040, ext. 1123, or email@example.com for additional information.