EAST HANOVER, NJ- The Hanover Park High School community will be banding together early next week to reach out and show support for one of their own.
Hanover Park alumnus and former Hornet’s basketball star, Matthew Geisser was diagnosed this summer with osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive type of bone cancer.
“Matt was getting ready to go back to school for his junior year at Towson,” said Geisser’s former coach and longtime friend, Todd Hartman. “He had a shoulder surgery and was in the middle of physical therapy for that when he happened to mention that his shin had been bothering him. He ended up getting an MRI and it turned out he had osteosarcoma. His life changed in that instant.”
Instead of the classrooms, parties and college sports enjoyed by his classmates, the 20 year old from East Hanover was looking down the barrel of doctor’s offices and chemotherapy treatments. Geisser finished up his first round of chemo and went in for surgery only last week. He is now looking at his second round of chemo that starts on Wednesday.
“As a coach you get to see people at their worst and at their best.” Hartman went on to say. "Matt is always the same guy whether things are going up or down and he is facing this new ordeal in the same way…When I heard about the diagnosis I never doubted for a second that he was going to get through this. Everything they say it takes to beat cancer are things that Matt has always embodied.”
Geisser and his coach have only become closer over the last three years since he graduated from Hanover Park. Hartman has been a longtime friend of the family and even had his former student come back over the summers to help with the basketball camps.
“It’s horrible that something like this has to happen to such a great kid,” Hartman said. “The positive side of this whole thing is the profound impact he is having on so many people with how he is handling this.”
The event being held at Hanover Park High School on November 22nd has already seen great support from the community and is set up to be a celebration of Geisser first and foremost. Many have already signed on for the celebration including many of Geisser’s friends who are back from college, faculty members, and the cheerleading squads from both high schools.
“It’s like I told Mat, I am overwhelmed by how many people have come out to help, but I am not surprised by it.” Hartman said as a testament to Geisser’s impact on the community.
The celebration will have an array of food, tricky trays, and even a DJ, but the biggest part of the night will be the voluntary head shavings or hair streaks to show solidarity with Geisser during his treatments. 12 teachers and faculty members have volunteered to shave their heads and are currently collecting donations to sponsor themselves, each hoping to raise $500 for Geisser and his family. The head shaving will even provide its own sort of amusement with a game tied in to the proceedings.
“One of the things Matt was great at was free throw shots,” Hartman chuckled. “So we are incorporating that into the event. Every person that is volunteering to get their head shaved has to make free throws and depending on how many you make or don’t make is how low we go with the razor on their hair.”
In addition to money raised by the teachers, there will be a $10 donation required to attend. All of the proceeds of the event will go to Geisser and his family and help with the ongoing medical expenses of the cancer treatments.
Geisser’s celebration will be open to all starting at 7p.m. on Tuesday November 22nd at Hanover Park High School.