CLARK, NJ – Several members of Arthur L. Johnson’s varsity football team recently participated in a charity football tournament to raise money for a pediatric cancer foundation.
Varsity player and ALJ junior Anthony Morreale, whose sister Julia is currently fighting cancer, enlisted several of his teammates to play in the Marty Lyons Foundation’s second annual Turkey Bowl.
“Marty Lyons [Foundation] holds a Turkey Bowl a couple of weekends before Thanksgiving. This is their second year. My son thought it would be a great idea to get some of his friends from the ALJ varsity football team [to play],” Nadia Morreale, Anthony’s mother, told TAPinto Clark. “When the boys heard it was for Julia […] they were all over it. And it was a great event.”
The Marty Lyons Foundation (MLF) grants wishes to children between the ages of 3 and 17 who have been diagnosed with a terminal or life-threatening illness, the foundation’s website says. MLF has granted over 7,800 wishes since 1982.
The Turkey Bowl, one of several fundraisers organized by the foundation, was held on November 23 at Columbia University. Nadia said MLF will use the money raised from the event to fund future wish trips.
Each of the ten teams who played in the bowl was built around a wish child. “Team Julia” made it to the semi-finals round, when the team was eliminated by a team from Bucknell University.
“It was great because the team from Bucknell approached them and told them how great they were,” Nadia said.
Nadia said the team raised over $1,500 this year and hopes to raise even more next year.
“This was our first year [participating in the event]. The hope is that we’ll raise a lot more and build it, now that we know what it’s all about,” Nadia said. “I’m excited that our boys are already thinking about next year.”
Nadia said she was first introduced to MLF by another family whose child was diagnosed with cancer.
“For kids that unfortunately have two terminally-ill diagnoses, [MLF will] grant that child a second wish,” Nadia said.
Nadia’s daughter Julia Morreale had previously been granted a wish for her heart transplant by the Make a Wish Foundation. Julia, now 14, and her family were granted a second wish by MLF to visit Disney in November.
Julia received a heart transplant at 6 months old and was first diagnosed with cancer at age 3. The cancer has relapsed in the years since. “She’s still fighting the fight,” Nadia said.
Ultimately, Nadia said, the game brought everyone together to support a great cause. “I can tell you how proud I was of these boys, how well they did,” she said. “It was great for everybody to come together.”
More information about making a donation toward the work of the Marty Lyons Foundation is available here.