Human Interest

Man with Down syndrome hosts Valentine’s Day fundraiser for kids with cancer

Down syndrome, Valentine's Day, Keith Caputo

A Long Island man with Down syndrome is continuing his mission to help others by spreading love on Valentine’s Day. Keith Caputo is the founder of a non-profit organization which aims to show that everyone is capable of making a difference, and he’s turning his attention to helping kids with cancer next.

Caputo was previously named the 2019 Man of the Year by the Long Island Advance for his lifelong devotion to helping people in his community. Years ago, Coach Anthony Parlato III helped instill a love for volunteering in Caputo when he spent time at the Moriches Community Center. After Parlato died, Caputo was devastated. Getting back to his love for helping others eventually helped him heal from his grief, and in 2015, Caputo founded Helping Makes U Happy with his mother, Cassy. The goal is both to help the less fortunate in the community, as well as to inspire others to make a difference. There are numerous programs, like food and coat drives, a summer “feeding families” program, Super Bowl party raffles, candy and costume giveaways at Halloween, and more.

This year, for Valentine’s Day, Caputo partnered with Michaelangelo’s, a local restaurant, to host a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. For $35, participants get a heart-shaped pizza and a red velvet ice cream cake, with the first 50 people also getting a free teddy bear. $5 from each order goes to Helping Makes U Happy. Caputo also vowed to match every dollar raised with his own donation.

READ: 32 million to one odds: Parents welcome two sets of twins on Valentine’s Day, five years apart

“Keith has seen the commercials for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and is always very affected by them,” Cassy Caputo told Patch.com. “He knows many people with cancer and several children who’ve had cancer and he always wants to help them. Children, especially, he believes, should be able to have a fun childhood and to reach for the stars.”

Most recently, Caputo and Helping Makes U Happy hosted a “Souper Bowl” competition, with the winning class donating 410 items to help homeless people in the community. “[W]e filled 2 SUV’s and a van with the donations from all the classes,” Caputo wrote on Facebook. “We knew exactly what to do with it… these are the folks who replenish the blessing boxes for the homeless living in the County parks and who run a food pantry which helps so many.

In his interview with the Long Island Advance, after being named Man of the Year, Caputo said he felt he was lucky to have such a great community to call home. “The best things in my life are my family, my friends, my staff and the best community in the world,” Keith Caputo said. “I’m so blessed.”

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