HomeNorth Brunswick SunNB NewsHoliday Knight event will honor teen who died from cancer

Holiday Knight event will honor teen who died from cancer

OLD BRIDGE – Old Bridge High School (OBHS) will kick off its 2017 varsity football season with a “Holiday Knight” Toy Drive in memory of Marisa Tufaro, a 13-year-old who died of Stage IV cancer.

Marisa was born with a complex cardiac defect. She survived six open-heart surgeries and two life-threatening medical conditions prior to undergoing a heart transplant. A postoperative complication from the transplant developed into a rare form of cancer, to which she succumbed following a valiant fight, according to information provided by the Old Bridge School District.

The Marisa Tufaro Foundation, organized by her parents Cindi and Greg – a sportswriter who has covered high school sports in Middlesex County for 30 years – has partnered with the OBHS community to collect toys and gift cards for pediatric patients and other children in need throughout the Greater Middlesex County area during the football game between Old Bridge and South Brunswick High School beginning at 7 p.m. Sept. 8.

Through the generosity of strangers, Marisa was able to unwrap many donated presents and experience one final Christmas with her parents while hospitalized in a pediatric cardiac intensive care unit before passing away on Jan. 30, according to the statement.

Spectators are asked to drop off a new, unwrapped toy or gift card as they enter Lombardi Field, which is located off Route 9 north and Ticetown Road.

The Marisa Tufaro Foundation can only accept the following items: infant toys, infant mobiles, crib mirrors, crib music players, rattles, pacifiers, teething rings, toddler play sets, Barbie dolls, princess dolls, baby dolls, CDs from infants to teens, new-release DVDs for children and teens in English or Spanish, Play-Doh, arts and craft supplies, coloring books, crayons, markers, LEGOs, Mega Bloks, K’NEX play sets, Matchbox, Hot Wheels cars and play sets, UNO cards, playing cards, card games, books, crosswords, Sudoku, non-violent action figures, nail polish, deodorant, travel-size toiletries, pajamas, beanie hats, slipper socks, blank T-shirts with fabric paint, ear bud headphones, lined and unlined journals, gel or ballpoint pens, puzzles up to 100 pieces, electronic learning toys, hand-held video games, bubbles, video Games and wireless controllers for Xbox 360, portable DVD players, boom boxes, CD players, batteries, and gifts cards.

The donated toys and gift cards will be delivered to area hospitals throughout the year, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. Players and cheerleaders from both Old Bridge and South Brunswick high schools will join a representative from The Marisa Tufaro Foundation to deliver the collected items.

On the night of the toy drive, volunteers from the high school will adorn the stadium’s entrance, press box and concession stand with decorations for the Holiday Knight event. The school will distribute white-trimmed purple Santa hats bearing the school’s logo to the first 600 Old Bridge students in attendance, as purple is both the official color of OBHS and The Marisa Tufaro Foundation.

A snowmaking machine donated by Miller’s Rentals of Edison and a live reindeer accompanied by “Yukon Cornelius” will be at the game.

Commemorative purple bracelets with the words “Old Bridge U-Knights with The Marisa Tufaro Foundation to help children” will be distributed free of charge.

The event, which will take place during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, also will be used to heighten awareness about a disease that annually impacts nearly 16,000 children under the age of 21, a quarter of whom will not survive.


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