ROXBURY, NJ - Schools in Roxbury Township last month raised more than $108,000 to be donated to programs that help fighgt 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, an organization that assists families whose children are battling cancer. Lincoln/Roosevelt had extra support once again from Franklin students; 31 fifth and six graders from LRS shaved their heads while Franklin had 11 participants.

Lincoln/Roosevelt has been hosting St. Baldrick’s events for the last ten years according to physical education teacher and event organizer Jim McDermott. He told the students that the school has raised $258,000 since it began participating. 

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This year’s total was at least $14,788. McDermott also shared that sixth grader Michael Stigliano had raised over $1,800 by the day of the event.

“Events like this allow students to see their classmates put the needs of others before themselves and help to raise funds to find a cure for childhood cancer," he said. "I think having fellow students and people that have been affected by this horrible disease come and share their stories with our students is an eye-opening experience.”

LRS had an extra special guest of honor, Matt Adonis, a fifth-grader at the school who missed much of last year battling cancer. He is back to school after going to through cancer treatments for a year. “My mohawk is back and I’m playing sports again,” said the happy student.

Students and parents last year and this year were spotted with their “Team Matt” shirts to show their continued support for Adonis and his family.

This year’s participants from Lincoln/Roosevelt were

Grade 6 – Jake Arteaga, Connor Brunton, James DeChristofano, Jake Donnelly, Brady Giammarino, Tyler Johnston, Ryan Reonieri, Michael Stigliano, Vineet Varghese, Griffin Warsaw, Jake White and

Grade 5 – Matthew Adonis, Logan Batsch, Soham Bhagavatula, Vincent Bitetto, Brady Boryeskne, Conrad Boyle, Michael Eible-Dunlap, Ethan Everett, Jason Gabrielson, Jonah Kali, Nathan Milun, Danilo Molina, Matthew Navarra, Andres O’Brien, Christos Paxos, Leonardo Picone, Aaron Pineiro, Alexander Potocki, Henry Smith, and Eduardo Vargas.

Franklin’s participants were

Grade 4 – Dominick DeMarco, William Connolly, Matthew Donnelly, Jimmy Murphy

Grade 3 – Jaret Haupt, Nolan Montalbano, Daniel Rendon, Brady Steirch

Grade 2 – Nicholas Pecorella, Sebastian Sanabria and

Grade 1 – Jacob Milun.

A handful of participants were recognized as being a part of St. Baldrick’s League of Legendary Heroes which recognizes milestones in their dedication to fight pediatric cancer. The following reached new ranks:

Squire – James DeChristofano (3 years), Jimmy Murphy (3 years), Dominick DeMarco (3 years), Leonardo Picone (3 years), Connor Boyle (3 years), Henry Smith (3 years), Brady Stierch (3 years), Billy Connolly (4 years), Vineet Varghese (4 years), Brady Giammarino (4 years), Ryan Reonieri (4 years), John Kali (4 years), Teresa Webb (5 years, barber), Michael Stigliano (5 years), Jason Gabrielson (5 years), Laura Kemmerer (6 years, barber) 

Knight – Joe Pinto (8 years), Cindy Perez (8 years, secretary/treasurer) and

Commander – Jim McDermott (11 years).

This event would not have been possible without the barbers who donated their time: Laura Kemmerer and Jordan Babiak from City Looks in Newton, Kathy Benemerito from Dominick’s Barber Shop and Salon in Landing, Kevin Culleny from Cuts by Kevin in Kenvil, Terri Webb from the Spa at Randolph and Morgan Hairston (former student of McDermott’s) from Pampered Princess in Sparta.

Kennedy Elementary School, with the extra help from Jefferson students, also had a great event that raised over $11,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

Twenty-nine students from Kennedy School had their hair cut or shaved. Those students were:

Grade 4 – Jordan Agosto, Drew Malone, Jacob Schuchman, Beau Wawrin, Niko White, Annabelle Wilson (Donated Hair)

Grade 3 – Cesar Chico, TJ Hellner, Matthew Hypes, AJ Montrose, Ethan Pineiro, Daniel Recchia, Christian Tummino, PJ Zoesch

Grade 2 – Joshua Ayer, Francesca Celeste (Donated Hair), Ricky Pennisi, Parker Sakellaropoulos, Tamsin Wawrin (Donated Hair)

Grade 1 – Luke Feind, Collin Hild, Heath Jackson, Kyler Mitschele, Cole Mayernick, Bradley Staples

Kindergarten – Nicholas Dellavalle, Benjamin Gonzalez, Nicholas Uccello.

Six students and two parents from Jefferson School also participated. They were

Grade 4 – Patrick Shivas

Grade 3 – Anthony Blakut, Ashley Gallagher, Molly Gallagher, Ryan Parker, Raymond Stednitz, and Parents -- Melissa Shivas (Donated Hair), and Cheryl Blakut (Donated Hair).

The Kennedy Shavers which included Ricky Pennisi, owner of Atelier Salon and Spa - who has supported the event all five years - his two employees, Gloria Bloom and Marianne Silvia, along with Kennedy Cafeteria Aide Dina Corsi and Kennedy Aide and parent Christine Gonzalez.

Kennedy’s Early Act Club arranged to have a leprechaun (Steve Alford from the Roxbury Rotary Club) show up again 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 $335.

Roxbury High School Mini-THON

At Roxbury High School’s Mini-THON more than 500 Roxbury High Schools students (more than 1/3 of the school) and a handful of Eisenhower Middle School eighth graders danced the night away to a beach theme in the 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 five years, the RHS mini-THON team raised more than $170,000 and set an ambitious goal of $80,000 for this year, which they reached and more.

Mini-THON co-advisor and high school teacher, Mike Gottfried, shared, “After six years of being involved in mini-THON, our students, faculty and community never cease to amaze me. Despite every amazing effort, we always somehow top it the following year.”

RHS junior Tori Gonzalez agreed, commenting, “I was amazed and proud of everyone who came together for one common cause. I feel honored to be a part of something amazing and I’m excited for next year!”

This year’s mini-THON raised $82,411.82. However, this is the last year of having a monetary goal. “There comes a point where it’s unrealistic to look for financial growth, and the focus shifts to broadening our impact and awareness by involving more people,” Gottfried said.

Events like this wouldn’t be possible without the support of individuals and companies who donated their time and talent. “Many of Roxbury’s local businesses, teachers, and parents chipped in to make this event possible," he said. Some of them include Baseline Productions (DJ), DJ Ego (Mt. Olive student), American Sound & Stage (light and sound), Roxbury Fire Co. 1 (EMTs for the event), Dezine Line (apparel), Buddy’s Small Lots, Food Donors: Riviera Maya, Gusto 46, Joe’s Pizza, Roxbury Bagels, Black River Barn, and Cliff’s Ice Cream.

Roxbury’s mini-THON takes many hours of planning and fundraising. Between the 22 leaders and advisors, they logged over 5,500 hours combined.

This year’s team of captains included Robbie Waldron (Gr 11) , Victoria Gonzalez (Gr 11), Anthony Shafron (Gr 12), Sarah Attieh (Gr 11), Alison Harbinsky (Gr 11), Rachel Feliciano (Gr 10), Ileana Gonzalez (Gr 10), Holly Van Ness (Gr 11), Julia Grodzki (Gr 10), Justin Picciutto (Gr 10), Alexa Cleffi (Gr 12), Lauren Van Horne (Gr 12), Ryleigh Coakley (Gr 11), Joe Mills (Gr 12), Tori Peia (Gr 10), Shaday Gibson (Gr 10), Maddie Taggart (Gr 11), Adam Reingold (Gr 11), and advisors Gottfried, Joe Filoramo, Casey OBraitis, Kaitlyn Oster, Reid Meeker and Dan Coiro.

Together they organized to put on an all-night fun fest with games of volleyball, dodgeball, Kan jam, spike ball, giant Jenga, corn hole, video game rooms, among others. They also had lip sync battles and two bands perform.

New this year were incentives by staff members as the community reached certain goals. Paul Wood, Mike Baldino, and Alan Smarz had their heads shaved. Baldino and Smarz had their heads shaved the night of the event. Gottfried and Kellie Damelio had their hair dyed pink. Ryan Gibson had to glitter his beard. Meg Fagan couldn’t talk for a day and Casey OBraitis and Kate Oster did a duet on stage.

Back in February, Roxbury’s mini-THON leaders and advisors attended the annual Penn State THON event which culminated in a 46-hour dance marathon and they went back to take a tour of Penn State Children’s Hospital.  Attending were juniors Robbie Waldron, Sarah Attieh, and Victoria Gonzalez along with seniors Anthony Shafron and Alison Harbinsky.

These students were shown how their hard work and fundraising efforts are applied as well as the holistic care Four Diamonds provides.

“We were impressed with the quality of care they provided and how positive an experience they try to make it for each family,” said Gottfried.

Senior Anthony Shafron explained, “Everyone knows we’re fighting for the kids, but going to the event puts a face to the cause.” At the February event, mini-THON leaders got to meet their Four Diamonds family, Ashlyn Brysiak, which very few mini-THONs are fortunate enough to be paired with a family.

Gonzalez shared, “It’s not about how much you raise, but what you’re doing for the families and their children. It was powerful to hear our impact in terms of hours of music therapy, number of treatments, etc.”