RANDOLPH, NJ — While the inter-town hockey battles on the ice between Randolph and Roxbury are fierce at every age level, when it comes to real-life battles off the ice, there is no hesitation to offer help to their neighbor.
Such is the case with a recent gesture of unity and support from the members of the Randolph varsity hockey team, when they came together to deliver good wishes and monetary donations of more than $1,500 to Matt Adonis, a 10-year-old hockey player from Roxbury who is battling cancer.
“Our son is the most courageous little boy we know, he truly is our hero every day,” said Matt's mother, Alyssa Adonis. “He was dealt a bad hand…one that you pray your children will never have to suffer through. But he has fought hard to get to where he is today and he amazes us every day with his strength and bravery.”
The father of a Randolph varsity player, who wishes to remain anonymous, decided to challenge the team by offering to donate money to Matt’s family based on their performance in each game for the 2017-18 season.
“While discussing what Matt and his family were going through with my son, he immediately suggested that the Randolph players do something to help,” he said. “I came up with the idea that I was going to donate $10 for every goal and $50 for every shut-out that Randolph achieved this year.”
Randolph head coach Rich McLaughlin loved the idea, and allowed the parent to address the boys in the locker room before their first game. The team immediately embraced the idea, he said.
“Before each game, they would remind each other in the locker room that they were not only playing for their fans and school, but also for Matt; and after each game they all enjoyed coming up to me to remind me of how much they just raised,” the donor said.
Matt’s parents, Mark and Alyssa, both grew up in Roxbury, and know first-hand the rivalry that has brewed for decades between the bordering towns. Seeing those walls between bitter rivals come crumbling down in their difficult time of need brought comfort and joy to the family.
“Once again, our community continues to remind us every day that we are not alone,” said Alyssa. “The love and support we felt last night in getting to meet these amazing young men and their families overwhelmed our family. We are touched by their generosity, their camaraderie, and their friendship.”
On Sept. 6, 2017, just one day before he began fourth grade, the then 9-year-old Matt had an MRI for what the family thought were migraines. However, within 48 hours of that MRI, Matt was in the operating room having brain surgery, getting a shunt put in his brain to drain the fluid build-up from a tumor.
He then spent eight days in the hospital in PICU, undergoing numerous brain and spine MRI’s and being checked out by several oncologists. Matt had a chemo port put in, a spinal tap, and within two short weeks of his brain surgery, he had a second surgery to remove another lesion found in his spine, which was a metastasis from his original tumor.
Matthew was officially diagnosed with Medullablastoma, a malignant brain tumor.
October 9 2017 marked the beginning of a nine-month treatment regimen, starting with six weeks of daily chemotherapy and radiation, followed by an additional six months of 28-day cycles of chemotherapy.
“Eight months later, here we are just days away from Matthew's last chemo cycle,” said Alyssa. “It has been a tough road, but our little boy is tougher. Once he finishes his last cycle of chemo, we pray for clear scans and then it's time to start rebuilding our baby's body, strength and mind.”
Having hit double digit years himself when he turned 10 years old during his ordeal, Matt was impressed with the “big boys” he met from the Randolph hockey team.
“Matthew has some pretty amazing role models in these boys; when we got home, his Instagram page was blowing up with friend requests from these wonderful kids,” said Alyssa. “I hope Matthew's story has touched their lives as much as they have touched ours.”
When asked how he felt meeting the Randolph team, Matt said he was "really happy," that he “enjoyed meeting the big boys” and that he is “excited to follow them in hockey next season.”
Matthew started on the ice when he was turning five, and has played on both Roxbury and NJ Freeze teams. His favorite thing about hockey is the friendships he has made through the years, but as a defenseman, he also said he “loves blocking shots.” His favorite hockey memory was scoring his first goal.
“We pray and look forward to the sun shining again on our family, to Matthew’s health restored and to more smiles on our children's faces,” said Alyssa. “To our full of life, goofy, friendly, loving little boy coming back to us, one hour one minute at a time. Back to his childhood days with his twin sister, back to his friends, and back on the ice. God willing...we will be there soon.”
The total funds raised by the efforts of the team are as follows following:
Goals scored by Randolph (98) = $980
Shut outs by Randolph (11) = $550
Total raised for Matt’s family = $1530
A Go Fund Me page for Team Matt can be accessed HERE.