SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Wednesday, January 31st, the South Plainfield High School Tigers will take on the Old Bridge High School Knights in a charity match to benefit the Marisa Tufaro Foundation. The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s mission is to help children in need throughout the greater Middlesex County area.
Marisa, the daughter of well-known sports writer Greg Tufaro and his wife Cyndi, died January 30, 2017 from a rare form cancer that developed after complications from a heart transplant. Greg and Cyndi launched the foundation in memory of their daughter on July 30, 2017 on what would have been Marisa's 14th birthday. Their mission is to help children in need throughout the greater Middlesex County area.
The pre-match ceremony is scheduled to take place at 6:15 p.m. at South Plainfield High School, followed by the 7 p.m. match. South Plainfield Tigers are asking residents to attend the charity match to help create awareness for a great cause and help raise money for children in need. Greg and Cyndi Tufaro will be in attendance to share information on the charity.
The Tigers wrestling team, who has a history of helping others in the community, will donate the entire gate and money from a 50-50 raffle to the foundation.
Since its inception less than six months ago, The Marisa Tufaro Foundation has already made a profound impact, assisting children associated with Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital, Saint Peter’s University Children’s Hospital, Hands of Hope, Kiddie Keep Well Camp, the Lakeview School, Special Strides Therapeutic Riding Center, the Ronald McDonald House of Central Jersey and others. The foundation, which serves as Marisa’s legacy, is scheduled to announce two new initiatives in the coming weeks.
Members of the South Plainfield and Old Bridge wrestling communities have purchased specially designed T-shirts in their respective school colors to heighten awareness about the foundation with all proceeds benefiting the tax-exempt nonprofit.
“THE GMC WRESTLING COMMUNITY GOES TO THE MAT FOR AN ANGEL” is inscribed on the back of the shirt in capital letters under the image of two wrestlers flanked by angel wings and positioned beneath a halo. The front of the shirt bears a circular logo on the left breast uniting the foundation with the conference.
An individual Most Valuable Wrestler trophy will be awarded to the top performer from each team at the conclusion of the dual meet. The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s leadership will also make a special presentation to the head coaches of both high school wrestling programs.
Frank Noppenberger, executive director of the Greater Middlesex Conference, who is also a member of The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s board of trustees, said the South Plainfield wrestling program has long been a winner on and off the mat.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Noppenberger said upon learning the Tigers turned their Jan. 31 dual meet into a charity event. “South Plainfield has always been a caring community. That’s why they and their wrestling program are well-respected throughout the state and the country.”
Over the last decade, the South Plainfield wrestling program has helped a number of great causes. The Tigers hosted a fundraising dual meet against Bergen Catholic for prostate cancer awareness and took part in another fundraising dual meet at Rutgers University against Monroe to assist former Rutgers Prep wrestler Brett Epps in his battle with a life-threatening illness. Additionally, South Plainfield paid tribute to former teammate Sarmad Rizvi, wearing specially designed armbands and T-shirts in honor of the grappler, who passed away four years ago.
The two-time defending state champion Tigers are among New Jersey’s most successful wrestling programs. Their resume includes a state-record 33 consecutive district championships, 28 Red Division titles, 24 conference tournament crowns, 14 sectional titles and 10 state championships. South Plainfield has been ranked nationally six times – peaking at No. 13 in the country during the 2012-13 campaign – and is currently ranked among the Top 20 programs in the state for the 22nd consecutive year. Eleven South Plainfield wrestlers have claimed state titles, 22 have won more than 100 matches and more than two dozen graduates went on to compete in college.
Volunteers from The Marisa Tufaro Foundation, including Cyndi and Greg Tufaro, will be in attendance at the Jan. 31 dual meet to distribute “thank you” letters and free foundation wristbands to spectators. To learn more about the foundation please visit their website at marisatufarofoundation.org. Donations can be made by check payable to the "Marisa Tufaro Foundation".