FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM APRIL 11, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 27
Photo: Max Parrott/QNS
A SWEET WISH COME TRUE
F.H. chocolatier cancer survivor celebrate
BY MAX PARROTT
Athena Giassakis, an 8-year-old cancer
survivor from Ronkonkoma, snuck chocolate
scraps from the counter as Queens
chocolatier Mark Libertini showed her
how to mold chocolate Easter bunnies.
“When you’re making chocolate, it’s
OK to make a mess,” said Libertini.
Libertini and his wife Rachel Kellner,
co-owners of Aigner Chocolates in
Forest Hills, volunteered their shop
and merchandise on Tuesday to benefi
t the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
(LLS). Libertini gave Giassakis a chocolate
making lesson to help celebrate her
5-year anniversary of remission, which
she will reach this summer.
In addition, the couple will raffl e off
Harvey, a 3-foot-tall chocolate Easter
bunny, and match the proceeds from the
raffl e tickets and donate them to LLS.
Th e store has partnered with LLS since
Blood Cancer Awareness Month last
September, during which they donated
chocolates they fashioned to resemble
the organization’s logo.
LLS’s fi ght against blood cancer extends
beyond research. Th e Giassakis family is
a part of a program that provides education
programs, community events and
fi nancial assistance to the families of cancer
“When Athena was diagnosed, we
hadn’t known anybody that had cancer.
So for us it was a form of resources and
information,” said Athena’s mother Dana
Giassakis. “When parents are getting
thrown into the course of treatment with
leukemia, they throw medicine names at
you, and you’re still numb over the fact
that your child is sick, so you get very
It was more than just the association
with LLS that brought the Giassakis
family together with Aigner Chocolates
For Athena, chocolate stopped her from
being overwhelmed during her battle
against Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
As a result she cultivated a taste for what
she referred to as “bougie chocolate.”
She’s not alone, according to Bridget
Mantello, the campaign manager for the
Long Island LLS chapter.
“A part of the treatment cycle is steroids,
which causes kids to crave crazy
things,” Mantello said. “Specifi cally for
Athena, and for a lot of kids, that’s chocolate,
which can be found to be most comforting.”
Dana Giassakis couldn’t be more grateful
for the work of chocolatiers like
Libertini, who uses molds and recipes
he inherited from the Aigner family, who
owned the shop for over three generations
before he and his wife took over.
“I will never take for granted up a
foiled piece of chocolate again,” Giassakis
Aigner Chocolates will be selling raffl e
tickets for Harvey for $1 each until Easter
Sunday, April 21, when they will open to
announce the winner.