Lauri Strauss bike tour set for May 21

Lauri Strauss bike tour set for May 21
Photo by Tab Hauser.

Three years after Lauri Strauss lost a seven-month battle with leukemia, her parents, Evelyn and Herb Strauss, still wanted their daughter’s memory to live on.

In 1987, they founded the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation to fund research for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, myeloma and other allied cancers.

The foundation raises money and a medical advisory board accepts applications from young doctors and makes grants to fund research projects.

“This foundation has received a lot of support from the community and people all over have been very supportive of our events,” Evelyn Strauss, the president of the foundation, said.

The foundation is hosting its sixth annual Ride for Research Bike Tour on May 21, which will also include the first annual Baywalk in and around Port Washington.

Residents participating in the bike tour have the option to ride a 21-mile route, a 14-mile route or a 3.3-mile route.

The first annual Baywalk is a three-mile walk that starts on Main Street and goes along the bay near the newly renovated Baywalk in Port Washington North.

Last year, more than 185 people attended the bike tour, Strauss said, and the number has grown every year.

“It’s a very nice event,” she said. “And it’s a lot of fun too. And this year the Baywalk is all spruced up and people are going to have a very beautiful walk.”

The foundation raised more than $40,000 from the bike tour last year and the amount has risen every year, said Strauss, who has lived in Port Washington for more than 39 years.

In conjunction with the bike tour and walk, the foundation will host a bone marrow drive in support of Kevin Regan, a Port Washington resident, who needs a marrow transplant.

Regan was diagnosed with lymphoma two years ago and then went into remission before it  recently came back.

“It’s just a swab of the cheek to see if you’re a match,” Strauss said. “The marrow drive is for him but every person who signs up is put into an international database, so even if we don’t find a match for him, we might find one for someone else.”

Strauss said many people knew Lauri and the events have helped raise money for research, as well as keep her memory alive.

“She was always very friendly and she was very outgoing,” Strauss said. “A lot of people knew her because she was very active in school.”

The foundation uses the color blue because it was Lauri’s favorite color.

“Lauri was very upbeat, even when she went through chemotherapy, and she was very strong,” Strauss said. “She grew up in Port Washington and was a cheerleader and was very pretty.”

Strauss said Lauri was never sick until one day she noticed her gums were bleeding and then her tongue.

However, after enduring seven different courses of chemotherapy, Lauri died seven months later.

Strauss said after Lauri’s death, friends sent her and Herb, who died in 2007,  money and suggested they start a foundation, and in 1987 they did.

The foundation began fundraising in 1987 by putting on concerts featuring major artists — first in Lincoln Center and then Carnegie Hall.

The concerts including performances by Liza Minnelli and Barry Manilow, as well Skitch  Henderson and the New York Pops Orchestra.

Strauss said putting on a concert got too expensive and the foundation switched to the bike tour, which started in 2012.

The foundation also funds an annual lecture held at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, which began in 1990 with Dr. Albert Deisseroth, who discovered advances in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.

During the holiday season, the foundation sends out a make believe concert invitation and “attendees” donate money to the foundation.

“We’re not a foundation that keeps the money in the bank,” Strauss said. “We always give out at the minimum half of the money we raise. We keep very little of the money we raise in the bank.”

The foundation has many local sponsors, including the Peter and Jeri Dejana Foundation.

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