Giving Back

Ahr Star Program Raises Funds for South Plainfield Resident Brianna Feeney and Cranford Resident Finley O’Neill


EDISON, NJ - On Thursday, October 6, Bishop Ahr High School hosted its annual Ahr Star Spaghetti Dinner. Although the Ahr Star Program has been in existence for 29 years, it is only since 1997 that the Ahr Star Spaghetti dinner has been held. The Ahr Star for the 1997 – 98 school year was † Sean Batiste, at that time a senior at BGA. Sean was diagnosed with leukemia the day of his junior prom. The student body unanimously nominated Sean as the ’97 – ’98 Ahr Star. They wanted to do something special for Sean and decided to host a spaghetti dinner. On the first Thursday of every October, BGA Ahr Star has hosted a spaghetti dinner.

For the past 29 years, the Ahr Star program has adopted two children that are chronically or terminally ill. The Ahr Star Board and school community then spend the entire year providing support for the families. This year, the Ahr Star Spaghetti Dinner raised over $11,000 with approximately 900 people in attendance. “The Ahr Star program is a true representation of the heart and generosity of the BGA community. It is truly love in action,” said Sister Cynthia Babyak, Campus Minister and moderator of the Ahr Star Program.

Earlier this year, the Ahr Star Committee proudly announced that the Ahr Stars for the 2016 - 2017 school year are Finley O’Neill and Brianna Feeney.

Sign Up for E-News

Finley is almost 1 year old and he has the eighth-documented case of FATCO Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Finley lives in Cranford with his mom Mary Ellen, his dad Phil, and his 4-year-old brother Liam. His mom Mary Ellen (Ewing) is a 1996 BGA alumna and his grandmother Mrs. Diane Ewing was an English teacher at BGA.

Brianna is 7 years old and has PKS a very rare genetic disorder. Only about 300 people in the world have ever been diagnosed with PKS. Brianna lives in South Plainfield with her 13-year-old brother Joseph, 11-year-old sister Bridget, and her mom Patricia. Her mom Patricia (Trenchak) is a 1991 BGA alumna. 

All of the proceeds from the dinner are given to the Ahr Star’s families to be used as they would like. At the dinner, Finley and Brianna were also presented with many gifts, but perhaps their favorite was a soccer ball autographed by the varsity boy’s and girl’s teams, personally presented by the team captains.

Finley’s mom said: “It’s amazing to see a community come together and help us in our most difficult times.” Brianna’s mom said: “It’s such a blessing to know that so many people are praying for us and keeping us in their prayers.”

The Ahr Star program at Bishop Ahr is one of the most popular service activities for students and faculty. This year, 164 students, and 64 teachers and administrators devoted their time to volunteering at the dinner. When asked why he wanted to participate in the Ahr Star program, senior Andrew Weiler said, “It feels amazing to be able to give hope to families when they are going through a tough time.” Ahr Star co-chairpersons Kelsey Kacsmar ‘17 and Jude Roche ‘18 both stated that being able to run this program means the world to them. “I love being a part of the Ahr Star spaghetti dinner; it’s so great to see how many students come out to support the families,” said Kelsey. “It was great to see how the families reacted when they saw how many people helped out and attended to support them,” added Jude.

Members of the local community also got involved, with the food being cooked by volunteers from the Woodbridge Knights of Columbus, who help at the dinner every year. In addition, past and present members of the BGA community donated their services to the dinner. The Roche, Penny, Dama, and Lind families all donated food to the dinner, which is in addition to the donations made by the student body. In fact, the donations were so great that the surplus spaghetti was donated to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, where many BGA students volunteer their time.

"Attending the Spaghetti Dinner is always a great time. Having served as an Ahr Star Rep, it is not only great to see the current student body being actively involved in this great program, but also to see former Ahr Stars and Ahr Star reps at the dinner. Ahr Star is a truly life changing program not only for the Ahr Stars but for everyone involved," said former Ahr Star Rep (04 – 05 and 05 – 06) and present BGA faculty member John Roche ’06.

Donna Hrabar, Bishop Ahr Guidance Counselor said, “My family has been privileged to have two Ahr Stars over the years - my goddaughter, Jaclyn Rust in 1999, who has cerebral palsy and my grandson Tyler Eimont in 2015, who has Dravet Syndrome.”

In both cases, our family was overwhelmed with the love, support, prayers, and generosity of the Ahr Star Program as well as the entire Bishop George Ahr High School community throughout the school year and beyond! Once a child becomes an Ahr Star, that child (and family) remains a part of the very special Ahr Star family forever.

From the spaghetti dinner to the Ahr Star Mass at Christmas to the Easter Egg hunt - the Ahr Stars and their families experience the phenomenal attention of the entire BGA community throughout the year. It is the community that makes the Ahr Star Program so special and its love, support and prayers that ease the burden of caring for that chronically or terminally ill child.

The Ahr Star Program changes hearts. Once you are a part of this family - be it as a volunteer, a donor, or a member of the Ahr Star's family - your heart will be changed. What a wonderful and special gift we afford our students - encouraging them to be a part of something greater than themselves and sharing this journey with these children and families!

For the 2016-2017 school year, there are two former Ahr Stars enrolled at Bishop Ahr – Erik Gonzalez ’17 and Bethany Cicarelli ’20. Bethany ‘20 said, “I was an Ahr Star in 2009 when I was fighting leukemia. The love and support that I received from the faculty and students at the spaghetti dinner and throughout my journey were unbelievable. Bishop Ahr will always be a part of my life and in my heart forever.” Erik ’17, who was an Ahr Star in 2011, used this quote from Harvey Mackay to sum up his Ahr Star journey: “None of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone's help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you." 

Also in attendance at the dinner was Bishop James Checchio who said, “It’s a wonderful event that shows the true heart of this community. It’s so inspiring to see young people as well as adults participating for the Ahr Star families.”

The Ahr Star committee would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time, donated, and helped to make the evening a wonderful experience for all, especially for Finley, Brianna, and their families.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Christopher Shine Baseball

The South Plainfield High School baseball team is continuing to have a successful 2018 season with a record of 15-9. This past week, the Tigers went 4-0 beating out of conference foes North Hunterdon, Montgomery, and Bernards.  They finished the week with a win in the first round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, over Carteret.   A major contributor to South ...

The Athlete of the Week: Jillian Holoboski Softball Pitcher

The South Plainfield Softball Team had an exciting week of action where the team saw Coach Panzarella break the all-time win total in NJ. The Lady Tigers got things rolling by defeating John F. Kennedy 3-2 on Monday.  South Plainfield then traveled to Perth Amboy for a night double header and crushed the Panthers 14-0.  On Wednesday they beat Colonia 5-1. The competition for the week ...

Holy Savior Academy Presents ‘The Sound of Music,’ Eighth Graders Inducted into Thespian Society 

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy's Drama Club performed 'Getting to Know: The Sound of Music' on May 3 and May 4. 

Holy Savior Academy's Drama Club just finished its fourth year and has performed six shows. The Drama Club is run under the direction of Susan Loughlin, Daneile Micale and Eva Tripodi. This year’s production, which featured a cast ...


Mario Guido Abbruzzese, 70, died on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at St. Peter’s University ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Recreation Commission President Responds to Council Candidate Keefe

May 18, 2018

My name is Bill Cochrane and I am President of the South Plainfield Recreation Commission. A press release from Borough Council Candidate Kristine Keefe has recently come to our attention. In her press release Ms. Keefe states and I quote “Over the last eight years virtually nothing has been done to improve our parks and recreation program.” When this was brought to our attention at ...

Colin Berry and Cody Decker Earn Bachelor Degrees from Rowan University

May 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Colin Berry and Cody Decker, both of South Plainfield, received Bachelor degrees from Rowan University last week during commencement exercises.  Both young men are 2014 graduates of South Plainfield High School.  


Berry earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing and was awarded to the Deans List for the fifth time.  He served as ...

Community Happenings


May 12, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 11AM to 5PM, the John E. Riley PTSO (JER PTSO) will be hosting its first ever Food Truck Festival!


Come out for a good time while supporting a good cause! Proceeds from this event will go to replacing the 2 broken playground structures at John E. Riley Elementary School costing approximately $80,000. 11+ food trucks including ...

Holy Savior Academy to Hold 7th Annual 5K Run & Family Walk in June

May 12, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Calling all runners and walkers! Holy Savior Academy will hold its 7th Annual 5K Run and 1 Mile Family Walk on Saturday, June 2. Proceeds from this year’s family-friendly event will benefit the school’s academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs.

“Holy Savior Academy’s annual 5K offers the school an opportunity to provide other ...

The South Plainfield "Autism Awareness" Event

May 8, 2018

The South Plainfield Mayor’s Wellness Committee and the South Plainfield Public Library in conjunction with community volunteers hosted the Borough’s first Autism Awareness event at the South Plainfield Public Library on Sunday April 29, 2018 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. This “Afternoon of Awareness” was designed to help connect parents with important resources in order to help ...

Plainfield Animal Hospital

On Friday, April 20th, 2018, a South Plainfield resident responded to South Plainfield Police Department to report a fraudulent incident which occurred at Plainfield Animal Hospital, located at 2201 Park Ave, South Plainfield, NJ.  According to the victim, on April 4th, 2018, she and her husband brought their   family pet rabbit to the animal hospital to be euthanized due to the ...

Staying Fit at the Senior Center

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Staying fit and getting plenty of good exercise is a high priority at the South Plainfield Senior Center, located at 90 Maple Avenue in South Plainfield. Classes on health issues and a wide range of physical exercise are available almost daily.

The Walking Group meets every Friday, weather permitting, starting on May 18 and going through October. Participants meet at the ...

Upcoming Events


Sun, May 20, 1:00 PM

Open House, Edison

24 Orchard Street, Edison NJ- Open House

Real Estate


Sun, May 20, 1:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Long Island Ducks Baseball ...


Mon, May 21, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Soccer Association Travel Team ...


Tue, May 22, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Soccer Association Travel Team ...


Tue, May 22, 6:30 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Sugar Land Skeeters ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Sports


Wed, May 23, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield Soccer Association Travel Team ...


Diegnan & Ruiz Bill to Establish Grant Program to Develop Dual Language Immersion Programs Advances

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz to establish a grant program for school districts and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs was released from the Senate Education Committee today.


“The best way for a student to excel in a foreign language is an immersion program,” said ...

South Plainfield Motor Vehicle Office Tentatively Scheduled to Open May 21st

Dear Mayor:

I would like to provide you with an update regarding the Motor Vehicle Commission’s (MVC) new, modernized South Plainfield Agency.  At this juncture, if we receive the Certificate of Occupancy on Friday, May 11, as expected, the anticipated “soft opening” to the public will be Monday, May 21, 2018. 

We will schedule a ceremonial ribbon cutting shortly ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...


And here is (ACHOO!!) some more (ACHOO!!) news from (COUGH!!) South Plainfield Library:

            First, our previously-postponed Holi program, celebrating the Indian festival of colors, has been postponed again.  Due to predicted inclement weather, it has been rescheduled to Saturday, July 21st, from 11AM to 1PM.  Let’s ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Welcomes You

The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield is welcoming new members. Enjoy creative fund raisers, interesting activities while participating on standing committees, informative monthly programs, and the camaraderie of women whose efforts enhance the community. The club meets at 1:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month, September through June, at the American ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Has A Successful Fundraising Year!

After what can easily be described as a successful fund-raising year, The Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield met on May 3rd at the American Legion Hall in South Plainfield to decide how to allocate the funds that were raised.  President Diana Cotone called the meeting to order and thanked April Bengivenga and Joyce Dieterle for the delicious refreshments provided.

The ...

Press Releases

Rotary Club to Hold 91st Annual Track and Field Meet

May 15, 2018

North Plainfield, NJ -The oldest service club of the three Plainfield's will hold their most important annual community service project on June 6 at the Hub Stine Athletic Complex in Plainfield.

Long a mainstay in supporting the North Plainfield and Plainfield communities, the Rotary Club of Plainfield-North Plainfield will offer an afternoon of friendly but determined competition to young ...