SPARTA, NJ – The high school spring athletes got together for a good cause on Saturday.  The athletes ran to raise funds to support Melanie DiDomizio-Russo as she battles cancer, according to Lacrosse coach and teacher Kate Brennan.

DiDomizio is a Sparta High School students is continuing her fight with an aggressive form of bone cancer. She has undergone chemotherapy and surgery to rebuild her leg. 

The event was inspired by Sparta High School teacher Delores “D” Talty for fundraisers she has organized in the past for children in the community.

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“Melanie just really hit home with our lacrosse staff,” Brennan said. 

Brennan explained Melanie's story in particular inspired the athletes because she was, still is, an athlete.

”Her love for dance is still alive and well, despite what she has list, and her push to get back on her feet again is, well, simply amazing,” Brennan said. “She reminds all of us to keep fighting, no matter how dire the circumstances, and that is a lesson that we are going to hold onto and fall back on all season long.”

The spring athletes ran to “honor her, to celebrate her strength and courage and to remember our good fortune,” Brennan said, “as well as to come together as an athletic community to send her Melanie and her family the  message that we are humbled by their fortitude and behind them in their battle to overcome this terrible ordeal.”

All spring sports teams; softball, baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls track, boys tennis were represented.  Money was donated from people all over the district, Brennan said.  As of the night before the race the initiative had raised “over $1,400 and donations are still coming in.”

“The response has been wonderful,” Brennan said.

Additional efforts to support Melanie and her family:

Talty supervised a group of freshmen who sold piggy-back to raise money to help a fellow Spartan. 

Sparta Police Officers donated $1,680 to the family, proceeds of their No Shave November event.

An additional $2,660 has been raised on a GoFundMe page created by family friends.

Sparta chapter of UNICO held a Pasta Dinner Comedy Night, with a silent auction to raise funds for the family.