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Hundreds of Long Island pizzerias raising money for fallen NYPD Det. Jonathan Diller's family, police charities

Long Island pizzerias raise funds for fallen NYPD detective's family, charities
Long Island pizzerias raise funds for fallen NYPD detective's family, charities 02:02

ELMONT, N.Y. -- Pizzerias on Long Island are making more than just pizza Wednesday; they're making a difference, raising a lot of dough to support local law enforcement.

"We're here supporting the Back the Blue Initiative," Bayport resident Sam Incalcaterra said.

For Incalcaterra, this is personal. Her fiance is an NYPD officer.

"I think more than the money, I think is the support that they'll feel and the love," she said.

Five dollars from every pie sold at participating pizza places Wednesday will be donated to three cop charities -- Beyond the Badge, Project Thank a Cop, and Silver Shield Foundation -- and the family of fallen NYPD Det. Jonathan Diller, who was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop in Queens in late March.

"Who doesn't know a cop? Who doesn't have a cop that's a family member? I mean, he was an innocent guy doing his job," said Anthony Laurino, owner of Phil's Pizza in Syosset and co-creator of the group Long Island Pizza Strong.

Long Island Pizza Strong was created to support families impacted by the Farmingdale marching band bus crash that killed the band's director and a retired teacher in September 2023.

"We had 140 pizzerias on board with us and we raised $102,000 for the victims," Laurino said.

One of the nonprofits on the receiving end of Wednesday's fundraiser is Beyond the Badge, which raises suicide and mental health awareness.

"It actually allows us to be able to help more officers who could potentially be struggling in silence," said Michelle Panetta, co-founder of Beyond the Badge.

More than 250 pizzerias are involved in the effort.

The Nassau County executive and PBA president sat down to support the cause at King Umberto in Elmont.

"This means so much to us to see that people do care," PBA President Thomas Shevlin said.

"We encourage everybody to go out today, buy a pizza for a hero," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.

Fill your stomach with pizza and the hearts of first responders.

In a statement, the Silver Shield Foundation said:

"The Silver Shield Foundation is excited about this unique opportunity to raise awareness and funds for the Line of Duty families.  

"The proceeds from the LI Pizza Strong fundraiser will be directed to our Scholarship Fund to help to advance our mission to provide educational support for the children and surviving spouses of our Police Officers, Firefighters and EMS members killed in the line of duty in NY, CT and NJ.

"We thank the organizers, Anthony (Phil's Pizzeria), Alyssa (Dine LI), Jim (Side Hustle Bread) and all the participating pizzerias and supporters."

Project Thank a Cop said in a statement:

"We are grateful to Alyssa Guidice for organizing Long Island Pizza Strong and for choosing Project Thank A Cop as a benefactor.  The proceeds from Pizza Strong will help us to strengthen the bond between Law Enforcement Officers and the communities that they protect.  We are a civilian group who is able to provide a means for which people can get messages of positivity and support to police and first responders."

The fundraiser continues until the end of Wednesday. Long Island Pizza Strong's website lists all participants in Nassau County and Suffolk County. There are even two participating pizzerias in South Carolina.

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