Staten Island teachers organize comedy show to raise college funds for fallen colleague’s son
STATEN ISLAND, NY – As Teacher Appreciation Week draws to a close, a group of current and former Moore Catholic High School teachers banded together to keep their promise to their fallen colleague.
Joe Yannantuono, a math teacher at Moore Catholic in the mid to late 2010s who was just starting to build a family with a then-one-year-old son, JJ, when he received a devastating cancer diagnosis; Stage-4 lymphoma.
“He was such a good guy,” said Jeffrey Paul, who now teaches at St. Joseph by-the-Sea and moonlights as a comedian. “He kept very quiet about his sickness because he didn’t want anybody worrying about him. When I was first becoming a comedian, even as we would go see him in the hospital, he was more worried about how I was doing on stage than himself. ”
After battling the illness for two years, Yannantuono received a bone marrow transplant in 2012 from a Texas man, Justin Jenkins, who was a rare 10 for 10 genetic match.
Two years later, the two met in person on an emotional episode of Good Morning America.
Unfortunately, cancer returned and took Yannantuono’s life on June 19, 2018.
“There was a group of us teachers, Joe Gorgoglione, Dave Niedle, Tom Borowski, Vin Gurrieri, and Jake Cinciata; we all saw him in his final days, ”recounted Paul. “We told him we would look out for his wife and look out for his son. And one of the things that we wanted him to know was that we would help with his son’s college education. ”
“At a certain point, he knew his time on earth was going to be limited, so he went out and did everything with JJ, whether it was Mets games or wrestling shows or playing basketball. JJ was the greatest part of his life, ”he added.
On Saturday, May 21, Paul is headlining a comedy night at Bravo Pizza in New Dorp, with all the proceeds going to JJ Yannantuono’s college fund.
“Joe had such a great sense of humor about everything, which is why a comedy show is so appropriate,” added Paul. “With two weeks to go, we have a lot of support but only about a quarter of the seats sold,” said Paul. “Times are tough, but it’s only $ 20, and it’s for a great cause for a great guy, and it’s going to be a great time. It’s a win-win for everybody. ”
Seats for the event can be reserved by calling 718-966-6530.