MONTVILLE, NJ – Dads from Woodmont and Hilldale Elementary Schools in Pine Brook raised more than $7,000 towards the Michelle Fund at a high-energy basketball game held on March 29 at the high school.

Funds were also raised district-wide through a dress-down day.

The 24th annual match-up pitted 15 Hilldale dads against 22 Woodmont fathers in a standard five-player, four-quarter game. Halftime entertainment included cheer squads from both schools. The game was opened by fifth-grader Hilldale student Julie Leung, who sang the National Anthem.

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The Michelle Fund is an athletics-based movement designed to improve girls’ athletics in Montville Township. It was begun by parents Theresa and Leo Sullivan after their 12-year-old daughter, Michelle, was struck and killed by a motorcycle driver when she was walking on Manchester Way in Pine Brook.

The fund has sponsored girls’ softball teams, basketball tournaments and traveling teams, and field hockey programs, according to the Woodmont-Hilldale basketball game organizers. It has also contributed to girls’ lacrosse programs, team trips and the youth rugby program, as well as the lighting of the Montville High School football field, Project Playground (development of the Community Park Playground) and the construction of the Michelle Sullivan Memorial Field (located on Manchester Way), the organizers said. The fund also provides an annual Memorial Award to a graduating eighth grade female student from Lazar Middle School who best exemplifies Michelle’s personality.

Fifty-fifty raffle tickets were sold, along with raffle tickets towards prizes like a Kindle Fire donated by Lakeland Bank, and an Amazon Alexa. Free raffle tickets were offered for homework passes at Hilldale and lunch with Woodmont Principal Dominic Esposito, who said, “The Michelle Sullivan Game not only unites our two schools through friendly competition, but the proceeds benefit all of Montville Township. The game exemplifies school spirit and healthy competition for a worthwhile cause.”

Although the final score of the game showed a 62-48 victory for Woodmont, Montville Township’s female athletes were the ultimate winners.

Hilldale players: Keith Adest, Craig Agrusti, Thomas Baginski, Jim Calandriello, Chris Herrott, John Kobilarcik, Mike Levine, Rick Mangil, Pat Ng, Len Tarnoff, Josh Toporoff, David Schachman, Josh Simon, Larry Sussman, Christopher Wehrle, Coach: Ian Schwindel

Woodmont players:  Rob Aiello, Anthony Cannilla, Pete Cinella, Shawn Collins, Karl Feaster, Adam Gabriela, Pete Gruca, Scott Hedenberg, Victor Lao, Joshua Lampf, Nezir Leka, Jason Lew, Mike Masella, Mike McAuley, Sam Monte, Marc Paul, Adam Pearlman, John Pressimone, Eric Stivers, Andrew Troia, Michael Walters, Nick Zaky.

Individual contributions to the fund can be made by sending donations payable to:

The Michelle Fund, c/o Montville Recreation Department, 195 Changebridge Road, Montville, NJ 07045.

Music was provided by Garden State Dance Project.