MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - The Gov. Livingston football team spent time at Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside on Thursday for a very special community service project -- teaching the players the importance of giving back while creating a team bond amongst each other.
The project began when the 79 athletes took part in a Bench-a-Thon to raise money for the program with a portion being donated to Children's Specialized Hospital. On the last day of summer workouts, they participated in a one-day test of strength and durability to reach their individual "maxed-out" bench press weight. The donations were made through sponsorships.
"We tell them that they are lifting and getting bigger and stronger for the kids," said Head Football Coach Dan Guyton. "The more they lift, the stronger they get -- and the more money is donated to the hospital."
This year's Bench-a-Thon will raise close to $4,000 and $800 will be donated to the hospital.
The visit to the Children's Specialized Hospital provides the players the understanding of why they gave a donation, said Janelle LoBello, Community Engagement Coordinator for Children's Specialized Hospital Foundation.
The coaches break the players into eight "families" or "groupings" for team bonding purposes with two seniors leading each group of underclassmen. -- "The idea is to split the whole team into eight families so when we warm up, we split into eight lines," said Guyton. They stick with the groupings for all team events including the Bench-a-Thon as well as their day at the hospital.
LoBello had the players stay in their team groupings and work on three separate projects at the hospital that included washing hospital vehicles, cleaning the playground, and organizing a closet of donations.
We use this day as a team building activity and it is good to give back to the community, said senior Brian Hutton. Seniors John Wills, Mike Policastro and Hutton all welcome their senior leadership roles as each senior is responsible for leading a group. They are responsible to help the team bond, which in turn, helps the team come together more. They look forward to a good and successful season.
Gov. Livingston's home opener is under the lights on Sept. 12 against Voorhees at 7 p.m.
About Children’s Specialized Hospital, the largest pediatric rehabilitation hospital in the country, treats children affected by brain injury, spinal cord injury, premature birth, autism, developmental delays, and life-changing illnesses at twelve sites throughout New Jersey. Services include outpatient therapies, physician specialty services, acute rehabilitation, medical day care and long-term care through its sites in Bayonne, Clifton, Egg Harbor Township, Mountainside, Toms River, Fanwood, Hamilton, New Brunswick, Newark and Roselle Park as well as outreach programs in many communities. Children's Specialized Hospital is an affiliate member of the Robert Wood Johnson Health System and a proud member of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation supports the programs and services of the hospital. The Foundation is ranked among the top six pediatric hospital foundations in the country.