Dancing in the Woods Raises Nearly $550,000 for the Melodies Center

Dancing in the Woods attendees react to the heartwarming video featuring Melodies Center patient Alivia Nunziato, front row, center. Seated, from left, her father, AJ, mother, Tina, and siblings Ava and Anthony.

The 39th annual Dancing in the Woods raised $547,000 for the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center.

The region’s premier seasonal gala, which drew 570 people, was held Dec. 3 at Riverview Innovation Center in Menands.

The event program included a video that told the story of a 10-year-old girl currently being treated for cancer at the Melodies Center. Alivia Nunziato of Selkirk will have her final chemotherapy treatment in January.

Albany Med Health System President and CEO Dennis P. McKenna, MD, welcomed the revelers, as John D. Bennett, MD, president and CEO of CDPHP, title sponsor, spoke of the health insurer’s 22-year sponsorship of the event.

Kanyalakshmi “Kanya” Ayyanar, MD, chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Albany Medical Center and director of the Melodies Center, shared her gratitude after the gala.

“Once again, the community came out to support the important work of our Melodies Center. The generosity of all our sponsors and attendees helps us deliver the most advanced care and maintain an environment that is so welcoming and comforting to our patients and their families.”

The Melodies Center team includes highly skilled clinical staff, including pediatric oncologists/hematologists as well as chemotherapy nurses, social workers, child life specialists, and the support of Albany Medical Center’s pediatric subspecialists.

Dancing in the Woods started as a small holiday gathering in 1983. The event has raised more than $10.5 million to support the Melodies Center, which draws patients from 25 counties in northeastern New York and western New England. Melodies Center staff care for more than 1,400 children a year with cancer and blood disorders, including sickie cell disease and hemophilia.