In The Community

Wood-Ridge Athletes Team Up With Moonachie Fourth Grader Battling Cancer

The Wood-Ridge student-athletes and Austin Macalinto at the end of field day. Credits: George Armonaitis
Lonnie Allgood of Dreams for Kids speaking to the assembled students at the beginning of Field Day at Robert L. Craig School in Moonachie. Credits: George Armonaitis
The assembled student body of Robert L. Craig School listening to Allgood at the beginning of field day. Credits: George Armonaitis
The Wood-Ridge football team presented Austin with a jersey and a sweatjacket. Credits: George Armonaitis
Jack Barteck speaking to the students as they presented Austin with his Wood-Ridge jersey Credits: George Armonaitis
Students from Robert L. Craig School sang the National Anthem at the start the festivies Credits: George Armonaitis
Players from the Wood-Ridge football team presenting Austin with Blue Devils football jersey.
Robert L. Craig students walking a lap as part of the walkathon. Credits: George Armonaitis
Students enjoyed the water balloon toss in the 90 degree heat on Friday Credits: George Armonaitis
Lonnie Allgood of Dreams for Kids along with the Wood-Ridge student-athletes and former NFL player Kareem Huggins. Credits: George Armonaitis

MOONACHIE, NJ -  Not everything about high school athletics is about wins and losses, Friday Night Lights, and individual accomplishments. That was evident at Robert L. Craig School on Friday in Moonachie as the school celebrated its annual Field Day and their classmate, fourth grader Austin Macalintal.

The event also brought special guests to field day, including former NFL player Lonnie Allgood of the Dreams for Kids Foundation, along with current NFL free agent Kareem Huggins.

Also in attendance were players from the Wood-Ridge High School football team and the Wood-Ridge High School girls soccer team, as well as Wood-Ridge Head football and track coach Charlie Trentacosti, assistant football and wrestlng coach TJ Kroncke and girls soccer coach Jerry Cala.  

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Macalintal is currently battling Osteosarcoma, more commonly referred to as bone cancer.  Having completed his latest round of chemotherapy, all signs are good, as there is no evidence of the cancer that required a piece of his leg be removed, and replaced with a prosthetic device that will grow with his leg as he matures.  

His prognosis currently is favorable. With that, Austin decided that he wanted to help raise money to fight childhood cancers, and with the help of his classmates, set out to raise $10,000 to be donated to local charities fighting childhood cancer. The means - a walk-athon during their annual field day, as each student solicited sponsors for their walking the allotted time span.

Donations of a Eli Manning football and tickets to Radio City Music Hall Christmas show, helped, as each student who raised over $50 was given a ticket in the raffle for the prizes.  

Kathy Kinsella of Robert L. Craig School, who was coordinating the effort for the school, stated that as of Friday morning over $12,000 was raised, with late donations still coming in. Local business also contributed, but the majority of the funds raised came from Macalinto’s classmates.

Field day consisted of stations of activities, which, included the walk-athon, touch football, water balloon tosses, and the final event of the day, class versus class tug-of-wars.  

"They all look like they are having a blast,” Trentacosti said referring to both the  students and his players who were competing in a water balloon toss contest. “We forget that they (the high school players) are still kids, too.”

After their 11 am snack break, Trentacosti spoke briefly to the reassembled students, thanking them for letting Wood-Ridge join them on their field day.

Senior Jack Barteck then spoke for the high school athletes.

“We are so inspired by Austin we want him to be a part of our team,”  Barteck stated as he presented the fourth grader with a Wood-Ridge football jersey and a personalized Wood-Ridge High School sweat jacket.

Coach Trentacosti spoke about the day.

“This was a chance for our kids to learn about a what a true fight is all about.” Trentacosti stated.  “Austin is the ultimate competitor who is not giving in. He is working to get back in the pool and win, that’s what it’s all about. Having  Austin be part of Blue Devil Nation was our goal making letting him know we are all behind him is what it was all about.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of our kids than I am after watching how the engaged with our Craig school teammates and how they made Austin feel part of our teams.   Thank you to everyone the Craig School for allowing us to be part of this day.”

But the highlight of the day was the reaction of Austin when he was presented the jerseys.

“The smile on Austin’s face when he got the jersey, that makes it all worthwhile,”

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