Does anyone not know Jane Pontarelli?!!! She’s a force of nature, the life of the party, the woman with 8,000 people on her Facebook friend waiting list, and the friend who’s there for you in the middle of the night. She’s also a galvanizing fundraiser who has changed many lives — human and animal — with the charities she founds. “I tell it like it is,” she loves to tell me. And she intends to leave this earth a little better.
Her Play for Pink golf, breakfast and lunch tournaments, at the Hampton Hills Golf and Country Club, sell out just by word of mouth. Because, Jane’s mouth has reach. She started it 18 years ago, helms it yearly and puts a face on it. Her friends, she says, “know they’re going to have the most fun, eat the best food, get the best raffle prizes and the Number One goodie bag in the Hamptons, worth $800!”
Jane started it 18 years ago to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, two years after getting to know founder Evelyn Lauder and joining its Advisory Board. Within a year, she had turned it into the largest ladies, lunch/shopping/breakfast/golfing event in the Tri State area.
Today she also serves on the Executive Board of Play for Pink, which is in 26 states in 300 golf and country clubs. “I saw my young friends getting breast cancer,” she says of her original decision to get involved. “Low and behold, my fourth year into chairing this event I got it. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving!”
She wasn’t even a golfer when she decided to start it, but she is sure is one now. “When I put my mind to something…poof!” Jane says. Like creating a place for older dogs whose owners have died or become too ill to take care of them. Jane calls it the Old Age Home for the dogs at Bideawee. She started the assisted living for pets at Bideawee 25 years ago with a “group of girls” and a parade in Westhampton. “It’s self-funded now,” Jane says. “People have left it in their wills.”
Yes, Jane always has a “group of girls” behind her charitable creations. “Many of my girlfriends tell me, I’m so glad you do it because I’m so lazy,” she laughs. “I say that’s okay, just send me money and I will take away half your guilt!” Many who can’t attend her Play for Pink buy “tee sign” banners along the course.
On her cosmic course, Jane always has her white maltese Lulu at her side. It just hasn’t always been the same dog. “I named my last three Lulu,” Jane laughs, “so my husband Joe didn’t have to learn a new name.”
Jane has published nine coffee table books on people and their pets, for Palm Beach Pet Society and then International Pet Scene, to benefit animal charities. She’s written for many social magazines. These days, she writes a pet column for The Resident. She has also been honored by the Rescue Dogs of the Hamptons. “They go into really bad neighborhoods,” she explains. “I told them never show me any pictures, but I’ll get you money.”
Her Facebook friends love to read the responses to her daily question: “What’s for dinner?” “When I first went on Facebook,” she says, “I noticed there were people that for whatever reason, can’t go out that night and live by themselves. This way no one has to eat alone — and we share recipes.”
Yes, Jane’s heart is as big as her personality. “One step at a time, you have to leave a slight imprint on the sand or you’re nothing!” she proclaims. “That’s my motto. Because I don’t wear a big size shoe, my footprint will never be big. But, I will make a difference and together we will all make a difference.”
That’s a woman to follow.
For more information about Breast Cancer Research Foundation, visit www.bcrfcure.org.