ROXBURY, NJ - At three separate events on one day this month, Roxbury students raised more than $100,000 that will be donated to help support children and families impacted by pediatric cancer.
Lincoln/Roosevelt and Kennedy Elementary School each hosted a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The foundation assists families whose children are battling cancer. Lincoln/Roosevelt had extra support once again from Franklin School students. Forty-seven fifth and six graders from LRS shaved their heads while Franklin had 16 participants.
Lincoln/Roosevelt Principal Chris Argenziano kicked off the event, noting it is one of his favorite events each year. He and event organizer and Lincoln/Roosevelt physical education teacher Jim McDermott once again had their heads shaved for the cause.
Once the parade of the shaven entered the gymnasium, Argenziano introduced three students from Roxbury High School who came to tell the students about a special project they’ve been working that ties into helping families affected by pediatric cancer.
Jessica Bartelloni, Madison Ketch and Gabrielle Keuscher are working on Project Glow Gold. This community service project came about from their high school English teacher, Jonathan Benbow. Bartelloni explained that Benbow decided to assign a year-long project.
“The project criteria was to spend 20 percent of your time on something that would be valuable to you," she said. "After thinking for a little bit, an idea came to me that we should do something with pediatric cancer. I figured pediatric cancer is a big epidemic all around the world. Also, every single person on this earth has been touched by any form of cancer, regardless if its breast cancer, pediatric, etc.”
Bartelloni asked the students at Lincoln/Roosevelt if they knew anyone affected by cancer and hands flew up. She asked if anyone knew of any children affected by cancer and again, hands went up which indicated how necessary Project Glow Gold and St. Baldrick’s is in helping with the fight.
The high schoolers explained they have collection boxes in all the schools and around town for people to donate items like earbuds, Play-Doh, coloring books and markers, action figures and Barbie dolls, activity books, makeup and cosmetic bags, gift cards, stress balls, gum, anti-nausea wristbands, etc. Care packages will then be created and donated to area hospitals to children under the age of 18 battling cancer.
Lincoln/Roosevelt has been hosting St. Baldrick’s events for the last ten years according to McDermott. He shared with all the kids that since this began at LRS, they’ve raised $260,000. This year’s total as of March 19 was $14,390. McDermott also shared that sixth grader, William Knapp had raised over $2,000 by the day of the event.
This year’s participants from Lincoln/Roosevelt were:
Grade 6 - Alex Baron, Joseph Benanti, R.J. Blakut, Tyler Brooks, Alex Brooks, Austin Buczynski, Nathan Byrne, Jonathan Castellano, Nicole Cunha, Patrick D’Agostino, Sebastian DeMarco, Ryan Donnelly, Priscilla Gorgas, Nicholas Holick, Airyana Hoover, Peter Karipidis, William Knapp, Dominick Maltese, Nicholas Maltese, Justin Masi, Caleb McInnes, Austin Mendonca, Jake Morgan, Justin Mound, Zackary O’Connor, Nicholas Pieper, Caleb Pinto, Alex Russell, Louis Schulz, Caleb Smith, Christian Sokolowksi, Odon Wasielewski
Grade 5 – Jake Arteaga, Connor Brunton, James DeChristofano, Jake Donnelly, Jason Gabrielson, Brady Giammarino, Gracie Giammarino, Nick Kemmerer, Ryan Reonieri, Joseph Ronchetta, Espen Sears, Alejandro Tabares-Giraldo, Vineet Varghese, Griffin Warsaw, Anthony Schnabel.
Franklin’s participants were Stephen Jason, Sebastian Sanabria, Nicholas Pecorella, William Connelly, Evan Morgan, Jaret Haupt, Nolan Montalbano, Brady Stierch, Dominick DeMarco, Jimmy Murphy, Matthew Navarra, Eduardo Vargas, Nathan Millun, Tyler Forschner, Piper Beach and Olivia Alberti.
Sixth-grader Airyana Hoover not only donated her hair but also shaved her head to show her support.
A few students and parents were spotted with “Team Matt” shirts to show their support for Matt Adonis, a fourth grader at Nixon School who is currently battling cancer.
This event would not have been possible without the barbers who donated their time for this worthy cause: Toni-Marie Ficchi with Matthew Vincent, Suzanne Mendonca with Via Veneto, Cynthia Mardin with Buzzwerks, Janet Stone with Buzzwerks, Kevin Culleny with Cuts by Kevin, Kelly McNicholas with Atelier, Kathleen Benemerito with Dominick’s, Jennifer Weintraub, Lisa Groshopp with Salon Déjà vu and John Wright with Just Braggin Salon.
Kennedy School, with the extra help from Jefferson and Nixon students, also had a great event that raised $15,300 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Fifteen students from Kennedy School had their hair cut or shaved. Those students were Kindergartener Heath Jackson, first grader Ricky Pennisi, second graders AJ Montrose, Sophia Celeste, Cesar Chico, Matthew Hypes, Daniel Recchia, Christian Tumino, PJ Zoesch, third graders Drew Malone, Jaedon Reilly, Jacob Schuchman, and fourth graders Dylan Cooper, Jonah Kali, and Valentina Ambra. They even had a Kennedy alumni fifth grader, Michael Stigliano, come back to have his head shaved again.
Ten students from Jefferson School joined them along with two from Nixon School. The Jefferson students were Soham Bhagauatula, Connor Boyle, Sean Fairbairn, Cam Guerra, Andres O'Brien, Noah Orszulak, Ryan Parker, Alex Potocki, Henry Smith, Ray Stednitz and the Nixon ones were Aaron List and Nicholas Pierri.
A special thanks goes to the Kennedy shavers as well which included Gloria Bloom, Dina Corsi, Shereyl Denning and Ricky Pennisi.
Kennedy’s Early Act Club arranged to have a leprechaun (Steve Alford from the Roxbury Rotary Club) show up at the St. Baldrick’s event to have students take their pictures with him as an additional fundraiser for the event. Students could pay $1 for a picture with the leprechaun. The Club raised an additional $275.
Mini-THON a Major Success
Roxbury High School’s Mini-THON took place Friday night into Saturday morning. More than 500 Roxbury High Schools students (more than a third of the school), some alumni and friends from surrounding districts danced the night away to a Disney theme in the Roxbury High School gym to raise money and support for the fight against pediatric cancer.
Funds raised from this event will be donated to the Four Diamonds, which covers medical bills for families as well as cancer research.
Over the past four years, the RHS mini-THON team raised more than $90,000 and set an ambitious goal of $75,000 for this year, which they exceeded.
Mini-THON co-advisor and high school teacher, Mike Gottfried shared, “I’m still in disbelief that we had another unbelievably successful year. It’s one thing to surpass your previous total, but another to crush it (again).”
Adding, “As of Thursday morning we were at $52,000 and managed to bring in over $23,000 in the final 48 hours, taking us to $75,526.09. Since the event ended, a few more donations have come in, bringing our total to $78,103.80.”
Mini-THON had many bands perform throughout the night to keep up everyone’s energy. The bands included Strange Eclipse, The Off Band and Found Vegas, a band that includes several faculty put together by Dan Salyerds.
During Strange Eclipse’s set, Salyerds joined them for a few songs with one featuring Roxbury High School Principal Jeff Swanson singing Glory Days, and another featuring some Mini-THON advisors singing the chorus and playing the shakers and tambourines.
The evening’s DJs included DJ Ego, DJ Supmikecheck and Mr. Coiro.
The Mini-THON organizers said they wanted to thank the Roxbury Police Department and Roxbury Fire Company #1 for providing support. Roxbury Fire Co. #1 staffed several volunteers during multiple shifts throughout the night.
“We are also grateful for the tremendous support from our local businesses donating food and sponsoring our event," Gottfried added.
Donors included Gusto 46, Riviera Maya, Joe’s Pizza, Roxbury Bagels, Flanders Bagels, and sponsorships from Micro Logic and Buddy’s Small Lots.
“A major thank you to our high school administration and staff who provided tremendous support," Gottfried said. "Many teachers volunteered their time as chaperones or made trays of food for our event. We are beyond thankful for the support of our administration, our student body, community, and leaders who made all of this possible. It truly takes the support of everyone to achieve all that we have in just five years. In total, we have raised nearly $168,000!”
The RHS Mini-THON Committee sent an email to the high school student body and staff sharing, “We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of you who helped make our 5th annual mini-THON an unbelievable success. To go from $8k (70 students) in our first year to $14.5k (125 students) in 2015, $17.4k (175 students) in 2016, $52.2k (400 students) in 2017, and $76,0064.54 (and counting) in our 5th year is simply incredible. We had about 500 students (over 36% of the student body) participate Friday night, with another 100 who signed up but could not attend (due to sports and other commitments). We also had over 60 faculty members donate their time, money, or food to us this year!”
The committee added, “Our 17 student leaders and seven advisors have put in a tremendous commitment, logging a collective 3,429.5 hours, averaging 143 hours per person during this year alone. These students have transformed from volunteers into well-rounded leaders through our program. Mini-THON is more than an event, as it continues to change and shape the lives not only for the families and their children through the Four Diamonds, but for our students and community as well. Thank you for helping mini-THON to define Roxbury High School and continue to give both our school and community pride.”