SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Throughout October, members of the South Plainfield Tigers Mighty Mites adorned pink shoelaces, laces, socks and wristbands in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The team also, for the second consecutive year, took part in a letter-writing program, writing personal notes to cancer patients at Saint Peter’s University Hospital.
According to Jim Geis, one of the coaches of the 7- to 9-year-old Pop Warner football team, the letter-writing program increased the children’s knowledge about different cancers and provided them the opportunity to show compassion and support to those in need while also providing them the opportunity to work on their penmanship and spelling and learn the ‘lost art’ of writing an old-fashion letter. Additionally, players made a commitment to a patient to play hard in their honor.
“The program provided our team with life lessons and let them realize that there are many challenges on and off the field,” said Geis, a resident of South Plainfield. “The goal was to show compassion and help the players understand that there are other issues and problems out there. We want them to see that there is life outside of football.” Geis added, “It teaches them to have compassion for people, to make a commitment to someone and play football with a sense of pride and purpose.”
Geis said the idea for the letter-writing program first arose last year when members of the team questioned why NFL players and members of other sports teams wear pink in October. “I explained what the color symbolizes and how it is worn to support people with breast cancer who are suffering,” said Geis, adding that although no one he knows has had breast cancer, awareness for cancer itself is something that is close to his heart.
“Ron Eodice, my very own South Plainfield Pop Warner football coach, was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. He has had a rough battle but is now on his way to full recovery,” said Geis. “He was my coach 30 years ago for this program and remains a great friend today.”
All letters written by the Mighty Mites were delivered to Saint Peter’s and distributed to cancer patients. The response, said Geis, has been extremely positive and he hopes to continue the letter-writing program each year. “This is a great program for the patients, kids, parents, our organization and the community,” Geis said, adding, “I know their parents are very proud of them for putting their feelings on paper - to play football with heart and soul. We, as a Mighty Mites staff, are very proud to coach these kids.”
The 2015 South Plainfield Tigers Mighty Mites include 29 children ages 7- to 9-year-olds, including Players include: Jesse Abplanalp, Ibn Arrington, Ryan Balent, Adam Bowles, Jalen Brogdon, David Butrico, Dillon Elliot, Matt Falcone, Anthony Fallet, Lorenzo Fuscoletti, Mason Geis, Corey Greenleaf, Kyle Greenleaf, Jake Haspel, King Hills, Nolan Hook, Jayden Jimenez, Jack Jones, Anthony Meyers, Dominick Nuzzo, Dylan Oller, Angelo Palmeri, Kyle Pear, Kevin Penny, A.J. Perales, Ryan Rizk, Patrick Smith, Gavin Sylvester and Nate Waldorf. The coaches are Chris Balent, Chuck Bowles, Jim Geis, Craig Hook, Scott Oller, Bill Pear, Joe Perales, Tom Rizk, Mike Torterelli and Eric Waldorf.