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Brian Bates and Family

I would like to share with you about why Connor playing for the Warriors is important to our family.

In 2019 our daughter, Amelia, who was 6 at the time had an infection between her inner ear and her brain. She was admitted to Maria Fereri and for a few days we were very concerned with what could be causing her seizure-like activity and severe vertigo. The care and compassion we received from the staff at Maria Fereri was unlike any other hospital we had ever been to. At that time, our son, Connor, had not begun playing hockey yet, as he was too young. We wrote letters and thanked the staff who treated our daughter, but always wished we could do more. When we heard about the sign up for the 2023 Westchester Warriors, we knew that our son playing for and raising money for Maria Fereri was our way to give back. The first season on the 10U team could not have gone better and we hope he'll be a Warrior for years to come!

Christian Waugh and Family


I am playing for the Westchester Warriors for my cousin MacKenna, who was a patient at Maria Fareri soon after she was born. MacKenna was born with a rare condition called Prader Willi Syndrome. She spent some time at Maria Fareri the first year after being born. She is 9 now. She now travels to a Philadelphia children’s hospital yearly for treatments and also sees a specialist in Orlando. I am playing in her honor and to help raise funds for a truly great hospital and organization who helped our family.

When a little boy dies at three years old,
 it’s all the life he hasn’t lived that hurts so much.


I am Bryce’s mom! Bryce is no longer with us here on earth but he is forever in our thoughts, hearts and memories.

Bryce Peter Klingel was born on May 8, 2012, he was a little warrior from the start. During his short stay on this earth he had multiple surgeries, appointments, needle sticks and medications.

 No words will ever change your life more than hearing your child has cancer.

These words are enough to stop the world from spinning while everyone else keeps on going. You are automatically thrown into a world where you are a foreigner and don’t know the language or customs. We traveled from Texas to Boston to find a treatment for our son. 

We finally found our home in Boston for treatment, we were only able to treat the symptoms of his type of cancer but that was not met without battles.

While I lived in Boston for months on end the rest of my family had to march on in this new world. We had to adapt to the life of raising a child who might not make it. A child who could have a seizure at any moment and could not be near magnets for fear of resetting his shunt. 

Full of love and life we decided to love and live like there was no tomorrow, for Bryce and our family tomorrow was never promised. 

During his short 3.5 years on this earth Bryce lived life to the fullest, with pit stops at the hospital and his many doctors appointments he found his own way to battle this horrible disease. 

Cancer does not just affect the person battling it affects the whole family and community that surrounds them. 

Would this be okay if it was your child in the hospital bed next to ours?

Bryce was a wonderful blend of energy, curiosity, sweetness and mischief. He battled his lifelong illness like a great warrior. A laughing, teasing, running, jumping, hugging, kissing, demanding and ferocious little warrior. He left his loving home on earth to take his place among the angels in heaven on December 7, 2015. His life was far too brief. But it was beautifully lived. Bryce played hard and he made you forget he was ill. The surgeons would say “we cautiously hope he will recover from this surgery in four weeks.” And he would be running amok in four days. Bryce had strength and courage that we are not likely to witness in another person again.

I am as much Bryce’s mom today as I was the day he was born, everyday he lived  and the day he died. I lived in the foreign land of pediatric cancer and have the battered heart and scars to tell the story! It is not a road I would wish on anyone, it is scary and hard. You find strength you never thought you had and you pray everyday to change places with your child. You pray for skilled hands of the surgeon and for a friend to show up that day and give you a little reprieve of your world, even for a moment. You grieve for the child you thought you would have and you are thankful for every moment you can still hold your child in your arms. 

Bryce was and will forever be our Warrior. He had an infectious smile and personality and we will miss him forever and always.

Our star keeps shining in the way we live our life. He is my family's reason why we have become part of the Westchester Warrior Family.

JT Martinez & the Martinez Family

Why I Am A Warrior

“Playing for the Westchester Warriors is honestly an easy decision for me. First, I love hockey and second, my family owes a lot to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. When I was just five years old my six-year-old sister, Sara, was diagnosed with a rare but potentially fatal blood disorder. Sara received all of her treatment from the amazing Hematology/Oncology team at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Although the next few years were very hard on our family, the incredible doctors, nurses, child life specialists, and volunteers at MFCH were always there to support us. So now is my chance to help give back to the hospital that gave so much to my family, a healthy eleven-year-old sister!”

JT Martinez & the Martinez Family

Jake & the Ottman Family 
Why I Am A Warrior

Jake Ottmann

About a year ago my family and I lost my wife of 17 years Lauryn Marie Small to breast cancer.   Lauryn was a passionate mom and advocate of our twins Iden and Luella Ottmann, who are 13.   At the time of her death, I was certain that I was alone and, although surrounded by friends and family, would never find an ally to help support my children the way she did.   Lauryn loved her kids and especially loved their team sports.   Hockey had become her favorite of all their activities.  Luella played into Bantam age.

Our family has been involved with the New York City Skyliners Hockey Club, based in Long Island City, Queens, since its inception.   Both kids have grown up playing in the City Ice Pavillion rink and enjoyed it. Iden had a great year following the 2017/18 season and had hopes of continuing.   The Skyliners for the first time were not going to have a Spring team.   Iden’s interest began to waiver and I found myself at a crossroads.  Would he wish to continue to play hockey?  Or would his interest fade?  Then a friend of mine from the Skyliners mentioned that her son was playing on a team called the Westchester Warriors.   That it was a team that had a mission of raising funds for Children’s Pediatric Cancer and the only requirement was that players help raise Charity funds.   Lauryn was a tireless fundraiser and even more, expected her Children to find ways to bring good to the world and volunteer whenever possible.   So, I figured I’d give it a shot.   I followed up with my friend Lisa and called Luis Panchame.   Almost immediately a ray of sunshine poked through our little home. 

Immediately Iden wrote and posted his fund raising links on various social media sites and he was met immediately with people wishing to help.  It instantaneously gave him good feelings to see that family and friends were willing to help out for this cause.   Iden felt inspired to see the notes coming in wishing him well.  Not long after, we drove to the first practice and were met by a few coaches and a gentleman named Luis plus a lot of talented young hockey players.  Iden was at first nervous.   He felt they were great players and he was in over his head.   I recall him coming off the ice that night and him saying to me, “Dad, that was awesome and I never looked at the clock to see when we would finish.”  

Following the first game at an upstate tournament,  I was standing with Iden and a tall gentlemen came up to me and asked “Is that big fella your son??"  I said yes and he asked if he could speak to him and invite him to another tournament.   That was Coach Denis Defresne.   Iden was ecstatic.   For the first time ever really, he was approached and invited to play more hockey directly by a coach.  Iden's passion rose to new levels culminating with him winning an MVP at a summer tournament.  He was beaming.   It didn’t take long before Luis had asked me to help with the boys and coach a second Warrior team.   All the while I made friends with some of the best parents I have ever met. And it was topped off with a new friendship with team manager and organizer Ron Vitale.  We spent the summer with our new friends and families.   

The Warrior family gave my son a passion for hockey while giving me a team to coach and also be around some very special people.  The team gave our family something to rally around and afforded us one of the best antidotes for internal conflict: an opportunity to focus on helping others in need as well.    I'm grateful to Coach Dufresne, Luis Panchame, Lisa Rathgeb, and the entire Warriors organization.   We look forward to being a part of the Warrior family for a long time.   

Thank You

Jake, Iden and Luella Ottmann

Alex & the Gittleman Family 
Why I Am A Warrior

In August of 2017 my husband David passed away after a 6 year battle with cancer.  He left behind our two sons, Daniel and James.  Dave was an amazing father and husband who was so funny and passionate about life.  He loved sports in general, mostly his Red Sox and Steelers but nothing made him happier than watching his boys play hockey.  He spent the most of the weekends of the last year of his life trekking around New England watching youth hockey while in and out of the hospital.

After Dave passed away, hockey became more difficult for our family in a lot of ways, emotionally, logictically…but I felt it was important to keep the boys involved in the sport their father loved to watch them play.  We were very lucky to receive a ton of support from our hockey community.

And then I had the good fortune to become more acquainted with the Westchester Warriors organization and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.  I was aware of the hospital but didn’t know the history.  The Fareri family lost their 13 year old daughter and turned their grief into a commitment to create an amazing family centered hospital for children with cancer.  The story inspired me and I wanted to help.  But what I didn’t realize is how much being involved with Warriors would help me and the boys.  The boys get to play the sport they love, with great teammates and raise funds for pediatric cancer.  I get to watch them play the sport they love and I am so incredibly grateful for all of the amazing people I have met and old friends I have gotten to spend more time with as a result of my involvement with Warriors.

We have done some really great things so far and I can’t wait to see what else we can accomplish…go Warriors!

Alex Gittleman

Ron & the Vitale Family
Why I am a WARRIOR

Written by Ron Vitale

Dear Westchester Warriors,

Over the years my good friend Luis Panchame asked me to provide a synopsis as to “why” I am so committed to the Warriors and the fundraising for Maria Fareri.  The cause speaks for itself but meeting/seeing the kids battling cancer during our hospital visits was a life changing event and motivated me to help these true WARRIORS.

The struggle in writing this comes from having to come to terms with the fact that my mother-in-law and brother were in a battle for their lives with cancer.  My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer in 2012 and my brother with Stage Four Lung Cancer in 2016.  In early January 2020, a few months shy of her 70th birthday my mother-in-law passed away.  Later that same year my brother died as well from his cancer and did not make it to see 60.  The reason I am so passionate is because of their will to live, 7-year battle for my mother-in-law and 4-year battle for my brother.  Both made exceptional use of their time during their battle.  Places like Maria Ferari, with the research and trial programs & research they conduct give hope and time for all for these Warriors to battle this relentless disease.

My mother-in-law, Silvana Pagnotta in her Eulogy was referred to as the sun to our family, the sun provides light and heat for the earth and is the center of the solar system.  Perfect description for the most selfless person I ever met, our moral compass, our light, our warmth, and the center of our little family.  I consider myself lucky because I married her daughter, and my kids are blessed with her genes and presence.  What a graceful, beautiful woman, she is sorely missed, and, in the end, she cheated this ugly nondiscriminatory disease for 7 years and showed us the meaning of a true WARRIOR.   

Aurelio “Ray” Vitale my big brother, mentor & hero.  The perfect son, father, grand-father, husband, big brother, and little brother who was always there when you needed him.  Ray, a gifted athlete and in particular hockey player, was diagnosed in 2016 but continued to play hockey and golf through to 2019, his will to live taught us all how to appreciate/value living in the present, our family and health.  The footprints left are too big to fill but what a path he provided to guide us.  Over the years I am blessed to have experienced the highest of high’s and the lowest of lows with Ray, he was my guiding light and I miss him more than I can express into words.  Ray of hope, guiding light is often referred to when we talk about him, Ray to our family and the path he created was our “ray of hope”.  Matteo chose Ray to be his Godfather and Ray willingly made the trip while battling, Ray influenced my kids to be better people and in Matteo I see many of his qualities which offers me hope and light that Ray is still with us.

Ray always found the right words and as family we have rallied around his take on hope, “if you are facing a storm, just ask for help in finding hope, for there is always hope”.  Ray Vitale

In conclusion, the true Warriors are the individuals battling this disease, the heroes are the Doctors, nurses and families supporting these “WARRIORS” battling Cancer.  On many occasions I expressed frustration to Ray and every time he would say do not be angry, better me than one of daughters.  I think this sums up the “why” we do what we do to help in any way possible the kids fighting cancer, they are innocent and beautiful who simply want to do what kids do.  I fight for them with the strength and drive I gained through Ray and Silvana’s battle.  The goal is to eliminate the need to fundraise because cancer is eradicated, no one deserves to experience the anxiety and stress this disease causes.

Thank You

Ron Vitale

“I’m powerless in the future and I’m powerless to the past but I’m powerful in this moment and have control” Ray Vitale

Alex & the Bayha Family
Why We are Warriors

Cancer has touched everyone in some way. It took my father, grandmother, best friend and two beloved English Bulldogs. I managed to escape the clutches of breast cancer almost three years ago but, the specter of cancer is always in my thoughts. When might it return?, is a question always in a survivor’s mind.  The Westchester Warriors has given our family a way to fight against this terrible disease while doing something our son Cameron (Warrior’s 05) loves. The Warrior family is growing and giving a sense of community to all of us that enjoy the sport of hockey. It allows our children to lend a special meaning to sports and give us all a sense of purpose. We are all so lucky to have our health when so many do not, especially children. Being able to embody the motto “We play for you” is so important to bring us back to the basics of being human. Our children need to learn to love others before themselves. Allowing them to listen to children their age who have struggled with cancer and can’t play sports because they spend their time battling disease has been a special gift. Parents and children learn to be humble and grateful for every moment we have together, on ice and off.


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