Dix Hills blood drive honors girl, 8, who died of rare cancer

A Dix Hills community came together for a blood drive Saturday in honor of 8-year-old Daniela Conte, who passed away last year from a rare cancer.
Katia Conte, her mother, fought back tears as she honored the memory of her daughter at the blood drive at Saint Matthew's Church. Daniela was only 5 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer in 2016.
"We were carving pumpkins with the rest of our kids and she wound up laying on the floor crying," she said. "We didn't know what was wrong with her."
After taking her to the hospital, Daniela was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma.
"A parent's worst nightmare - you immediately say you must have the wrong child, not my child. Check again," Katia said.
Daniela succumbed to the disease last March.
Her kindergarten teacher, Diane Gandolfi, honored Daniela Saturday.
"As a kindergarten teacher, I never thought I'd ever have a student in that situation," Gandolfi said.
Those donating at the blood drive say giving blood is one of the best things they can do in the fight against cancer.
The family also started a foundation in Daniella's name to bring more awareness to lesser-known pediatric cancers. They also plan to host a gala and 5K.