NEWARK, NJ--Organ donation is indeed a major decision.
That message resonated well at the 10th Gift of Life Duals, which were held at St. Benedict's Prep, in Newark, before a large and enthusiastic crowd of high school wrestling fans, on Jan. 11.
The Gift of Life Duals were first introduced in January, 2011, as a way to bring awareness for organ donation. The event's patriarch, Michael DiPiano Sr. had his life saved by a double organ donation in 1998 and he continues to live his life to the fullest, sharing his story and helping people to realize that organ donation can save multiple lives.
This year's Duals featured a number of high school teams. Nutley, coached by Mike DiPiano Jr. and St. Benedict's, led by Frank DiPIano, were among the teams which competed, along with high schools from Long Branch, Kearny, Millburn and Xavier of New York.
"It was a great event and a great day of wrestling," said Mike DiPiano, Jr. "It's always very emotional for all the right reasons. We know that organ donation saves lives. We promote it, but to sit at the event and see the direct impact it has had on our Nutley wrestling family, including my dad, Steve Searle and Lou Montes, is truly remarkable."
Read more about the Gift of Life Duals, here. https://www.tapinto.net/towns/nutley/sections/sports/articles/10th-gift-of-life-duals-will-provide-some-tremendous-wrestling-matches-on-jan-11-at-st-benedict-s-prep
Nutley had a good day, winning two matches. The Raiders defeated Xavier and Millburn while losing to Long Branch.
"There was also good wrestling all day," said DiPiano. "We battled real hard against Long Branch. The score was not indicative of what type of match it was. There were some extremely hard fought matches in that dual. Coach George from Long Branch came up to me after the match and said both teams got better because of that match. That was good to hear."
Among the 3-time winners for Nutley at the Gift of Life were heavyweight Billy Searle, Sal Mainiero (160 and 170 pounds), Jacob Gonzalez (145) and Peter Haverick (152 and 160).
Also wrestling well for the Raiders were Daniel Jennings (195), Dean Polewka (138), Nicolas Polewka (220), Anthony Haines (170) and Franco Graffeo (106) and Vincent Negra (113).
Nutley improved to 6-4 with last Saturday's competition. The Raiders will now prepare for the Essex County championships, which will be held at Codey Arena, in West Orange, on Jan. 16, at 4 p.m. and concludes on Jan. 17.
St. .Benedict's also enjoyed a good day on the mat, with three victories in as many matches.
"I think it was a great day," said Frank DiPiano. "At the end of the day, we love to win and wanted to go 3-0, but when we started this event it was with a bigger picture in mind, and that was to spread awareness about organ donation and transplantation. I think we have done a great job of that. This year was no exception. The kids had a great day of wrestling, and seeing so many people directly effected by transplantation there, was amazing.
"I think this year, we had the biggest turnout of people directly effected by it in attendance. That shows what we are trying to do is working. I even had a gentleman from Long Branch come up to me and asked if I can direct him to speak to someone about becoming a living donor, and just helping anyone he can. This was the first time that Long Branch participated, so obviously it´s a moving experience. We are looking to make the event even bigger and better next year. Stay tuned."
Mike DiPiano Sr. gave his usual tremendous speech during the event and was very pleased with the tourney's evolution, through the first 10 years.
"No question, this was a great day," said DiPiano, who had a busy holiday season, including participating in the Rose Bowl Parade, in Pasadena, on New Year's Day. "This summer will be the Transplant Games, at MetLife Stadium, and I plan to participate in that. It's great to see all the people who help make the Gift of Life Duals so exciting and successful. I'm very grateful, as are my family and friends."