Meet Mary Ann Cervoni-Iaia, Suffolk Chapter President

November 1, 2011 – Mary Ann Cervoni-Iaia was recently elected the new President of the Suffolk chapter of CAF. We spoke with Mary Ann to find out how she feels and what she wants to do as President of the chapter.

Mary Ann Cervoni-Iaia

CAF: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your involvement with the Suffolk chapter.

Mary Ann: I’m 52 years old, have thalassemia major, and am treated by Dr. Ancona at Stony Brook Hospital. I’ve been married for 13 years to Brian, who is very supportive and also does a lot of things with the chapter. I’ve basically been involved with the Suffolk chapter ever since it was started about 45 years ago. I was very young then, and it was started in my Mom and Dad’s basement. They had been members of the Long Island chapter, but the meetings for that chapter were so far away; that was why some of the members decided we needed a Suffolk chapter so that they could participate and help more.

I had been the Vice President of the chapter, so when the President stepped down, I took the position. This is the first time that a patient has been the President of this chapter, and I think that’s really important. It was definitely something that my father (Sam Cervoni, who passed away in 2001) wanted to happen; he thought it would be amazing to have a patient as President. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so happy to be in this roll. You know, my father was one of the biggest fund raisers in the history of CAF, and keeping his legacy going is important to me. He would never want there to be any chance that the chapter would fall apart, and that’s important to me, too!

What are some of your other goals for the chapter?

One of my biggest goals is to try and get younger people involved with CAF to help raise funds and awareness. Younger people can be great at that, and we need to cultivate our “next generation” of supporters, need to get them involved. Another goal is to get more patients involved. A lot of patients seem to be pretty excited that another patient is the President, so I hope that will move them to participate. We really have to get the patients and families to be active, because if we can’t fight for our own cause, how can we expect others to fight for us? If people see that we’re out there fighting for ourselves, they’ll be more likely to join in and help.

I would also like us to come up with some more fund raising events to add on to all the ones that Tony Laurino runs out of the Suffolk office. I’d really like to see if we can’t develop a Telethon, which would not only raise funds but raise awareness; people don’t want to give money to something they don’t know about. I’d also like to get more people from the music industry working with us. Some great musicians put on a “Long Island Legends” concert for us a couple of years back, and I’d like to do another and see it grow to a bigger scale.

If someone wants to volunteer to help with the chapter, how should s/he go about it?

They can contact the Suffolk chapter office at (631) 863-0532 or me at (631) 724-5571 or We can definitely need some more help! You know, the chapter’s Dinner Dance Committee already gives so much; they’re just such genuinely really good people who already put in so much time and effort. So for new events, I don’t want to go back to them and ask them to do even more. Having new people to sell tickets or donate raffles or help plan a Telethon or help out in a lot of ways is really important. I’m open to suggestions for new fund raisers

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