Letter from the 10-Year High School Reunion of Syosset High School Class of ’96 by the Lichtenstein Family
July 28, 2006
Thank you for the opportunity to share with all of you what a gifted and fabulous person our son, brother, and friend Gary Lichtenstein was.
Upon graduating from Syosset High School, Gary went off to the University of Michigan where he welcomed the challenges of his academic work. For Gary, college was not only about successfully getting into the Michigan Business School, but it was also making friends, being involved in the Greek system, and cheering on the sports teams (Go Blue!). Gary embraced every opportunity he got with vigor and enthusiasm.
That is why when he was recruited to work at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, it was not only great for his career as a trader, but also a chance to live in a vibrant city other than New York. While Chicago became Gary’s new address, New York always remained HOME. NY was where his brothers and parents lived, where he unfailingly cheered for his beloved New York Mets (even through all the losing seasons) and New York Knicks. But all these wonderful times with friends and family were short-lived, because in March of 2003, Gary was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive type of brain cancer.
After the devastating news, Gary came to New York for surgery and treatment. While undergoing radiation, he reconnected with his many high school friends. They offered Gary unconditional support, respect and a chance to be normal and fun-loving again. To Jill Austrian, Julie Robinson, Laura Pillar, Allie Dillon, Jaime Lippman, Evan Burns, Adam Koch-we, Gary’s family will be eternally grateful!! Gary’s many friends were also supportive of us when he inexplicably slipped into a coma 3 months after his initial diagnosis. He remained in a coma at Long Island Jewish Hospital for 4 months until October 1, 2003 when he died at age 24. His passing was less than seven months after we learned of his diagnosis.
Courage and faith are contagious, and during that brief time when Gary was living with cancer, he helped redefine those words for all of us that were so close to him. There was no time to fear, no time to be sad-there was too much to do.
We miss Gary very much and speak of him very often. He made all of us smile and believe! But the hardest thing for us has been the frustration that there is little progress being made to eradicate this disease. With this in mind, we decided to do our part by creating Voices Against Brain Cancer. Through our foundation, we will advance the progress towards a cure through research and clinical trials, as well as wellness programs for patients. Our website www.voicesagainsbraincancer.org can give you more information and photos. In fact, our first event held on May 18th, 2006 raised over $300,000 and was attended by over 600 people.
Gary had a bright future ahead of him. His courage, persistence and determination taught us all many lessons. Lessons not learned from textbooks or classrooms. Gary dared us to discover our strengths, and use them. He dared us to believe that we are each a wonderful and unique person. He made us understand that life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish.
We wish you all healthy futures and continued success.
Thank you again for the chance to share Gary’s story with you tonight.