Gold Boots Foundation’s 2nd annual fundraiser raises $10,000 for scholarships for Greenport High School seniors

Samantha Payne-Markel strives to keep the name “Seth Thomas Tramontana” alive.

Ms. Payne-Markel was one of countless people left mourning in the summer of 2021 when six North Fork and Shelter Island residents between the ages of 25 and 40 — Navid Ahmadzadeh, Swainson Brown, Nicole Eckardt, Fausto Rafael Herrera Campos, Matthew Lapiana and Mr. Tramontana, her then boyfriend — died of opioid overdoses after ingesting fentanyl-laced cocaine.

To honor Mr. Tramontana — and his signature footwear — Ms. Payne-Markel formed the Gold Boots Foundation, which held its second annual fundraiser Friday evening at The Lin Beach House in Greenport. The event, attended by nearly 100 people, raised approximately $10,000, the lionshare of which will fund scholarships for Greenport High School seniors.

“I just want people to remember who he was and the impact he made on this community as a friend and someone who worked in the hospitality business,” Ms. Payne-Markel said of Mr. Tramontana. “I want people to remember his name and keep his name alive in the most positive way possible.”


This year’s fundraiser was a ‘90s themed house party. Ms. Payne-Markel said she rocked an MTV shirt, biker shorts, a backwards hat and — of course — a fanny pack.

“There were a lot of people decked out in overalls, some people embraced the ‘Clueless’ look, or grunge,” she said. “It was cool to see how everybody did all sorts of different looks from the ‘90s.”

“I will say Seth was more of an ‘80s guy, he loved ‘80s music, but I think having the retro outfits was lighthearted and fun,” she added. “I think he would have loved it.”

The evening was not all fun and games. The foundation invited Tina Wolf, the executive director of Community Action for Social Justice, a not-for-profit which strives to prevent opioid overdoses, to lead anyone willing to participate through a presentation on administering Narcan nasal spray. When someone exhibits signs of overdose, a bystander can provide naloxone, the generic name for the drug used in Narcan nasal spray, to inhibit an opioid’s ability to bind to receptors in the brain and possibly help stave off a fatal overdose. Ms. Payne-Markel said most in attendance Friday were eager to learn the potentially life-saving knowledge and go home with a Narcan kit.


“It was honestly heartwarming,” she said.

Along with the Narcan, the foundation also gave out fentanyl testing strips to attendees. Ms Payne-Markel hopes anyone who does use street drugs will use the testing strips.

“If you choose to use, please test because it can literally save your life,” she said.

In addition to funding scholarships — applications for which Greenport High School seniors can pick up in their guidance office — Ms. Payne-Markel hopes to introduce grief services to the North Fork, which she found difficult to come by in 2021.

“There’s not a lot of mental health services out here,” she said. “Once that grief sets in it’s overwhelming, and if you don’t have a great support system which I was lucky to have, you need help from someone else and there’s pretty much zero grief therapy services on the North Fork.”