A longtime Westchester resident who was diagnosed with brain cancer in December received a thoughtful surprise earlier this week.
After dedicating her life to raising money and awareness for ocean conservation and education, she had the opportunity to revisit the ocean.
Bronxville resident JoAnn Zigahn has had a difficult year with the death of her husband, Armand, in February and her illness with an aggressive form of brain cancer, according to her niece Ashley Sasso.
She has lived in Bronxville for decades and she and her husband, who were both international divers, devoted much of their lives to raising money for ocean conservation and developing their marine careers.
They founded a group called “Beneath the Sea” which also raises money for marine career scholarships. At Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, the organization helped establish a wheelchair-accessible aquarium for the children to visit.
Beneath the Sea was also a founding member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, which recognizes women’s contributions to diving and promotes career opportunities for them.
“She has done a lot for the community,” Sasso said.
According to Sasso, Zigahn has been coming to the Jersey Shore every summer since the 1970s. She wanted to see the ocean again, but Sasso said this has become a challenge due to mobility issues.
The local beach patrol and police officers made sure that Zigahn’s wish came true.
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Wildwood Crest Police picked up Zigahn from her doorstep on July 6 and took her to the beach with an escort from a police vehicle. The Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol met her on the beach using a special wheelchair with large plastic wheels that allowed her to get into the water, Sasso said.
Zigahn’s son, Michael, shared how grateful he is for the police and beach patrol who made his mother’s day.
Sasso said Zigahn often took the family to the beach and taught them all about the oceans all their lives.
“She had tears in her eyes,” Sasso added. “That was her life’s work. To be there with all of us was very special to her.”
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