Number of Participants: 15
Hours Donated: 4
Value of Time Served: $507
Event Type: Children & Youth
School: Yorktown High School
Date: January 20, 2023
On Friday 1/20 we will be hosting our second Charlie Strong game to raise money for Blythedale Children’s Hospital. We will be collecting donations at the door, as well as selling Charlie Strong Tee shirts at the game
Incredible! Great game played by @YorktownH Amazing, that so many members of our community came out to support Charlie & raise money for Blythdale Children’s Hospital. @yhsdanceco killed it with a great half time performance. So proud! We are Charlie Strong! 💪🏻 💚 @YHSDeGennaro pic.twitter.com/1D3RQ4hHy1
— Kimberly Cortese (@KCorteseRN_YHS) January 21, 2023
YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Yorktown showed a lot of fight, almost wiping out a 16-point deficit, getting to within two points of the lead, before falling to visiting rival Somers, 57-51, on Saturday, Jan. 8.
It was appropriate that the Huskers showed as much a fight as they did, considering the inspirational player they were honoring that day.
That player is junior Charlie DeGennaro. He doesn’t get into games for the Huskers, but he is an integral part of the team.
In February 2020, he was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, which attacked his spinal cord. He spent four months as an inpatient at Blythedale.
At the game on Saturday, every Husker player and coach wore “Charlie Strong” t-shirts, as the Yorktown team made a financial donation to the Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla in DeGennaro’s name.
Once told he would never walk again, DeGennaro said that support from his family and the hospital staff kept him going.
“Especially the [physical therapists] and [occupational therapists]. They believed in me as much as I believed in myself,” DeGennaro said. “Being told I would never walk again made me more motivated to prove people wrong. Once I started to see progress, I wanted more, which made me work even harder. Even how bad my situation was at the time, being at Blythedale I saw many kids who had it way worse than me, which made me gain perspective and be appreciative for what I did have at the time.”
The physical therapists helped DeGennaro to walk and the occupational therapists help him with his arms and hands. DeGennaro says he feels great and is getting stronger each day.
“I’m very grateful for everything I have gained back; there’s still improvements that need to be made and I’m working for every bit of it,” DeGennaro said.
The coaching staff at Yorktown was inspired by the way DeGennaro has fought and wanted to bring awareness to his story.
“So, we were lucky enough to have him share his story to the team,” said Yorktown coach Mark Pavella. “We thought what a great way to raise some money for the Blythedale Children’s Hospital.”
Yorktown senior captain Eddie Brucaj said DeGennaro’s story was inspiration.
“He’s such a positive light,” Brucaj said. “He comes in every single day and just brings positive vibes to the team and helps us. He’s a great kid.”
To be a member of the Yorktown squad means the world to DeGennaro.
“I love this team. I grew up watching this program and could not wait for my time,” DeGennaro said. “The team truly supports me. I’m really appreciative for the coaches and all of the players. I feel special to be honored in that way and to have so many people care about me.”
One of those players he watched was his older brother, 2016 Yorktown graduate Nick DeGennaro, who starred at Western New England College.
“My brother has battled through way more adversity than any 14-year-old should have to deal with, and he’s done it without losing his spirit,” said Nick DeGennaro. “And to see him honored, in front of his basketball team and in front of his school is super special. He’s an awesome kid so he deserves it.”
Charlie DeGennaro said that he always tries to be a positive influence and cheers on his teammates.
“I am willing to help anybody during practices no matter what it is,” Charlie DeGennaro said. “I enjoy being there and supporting everyone. I’m really grateful to be a part of this team. I feel very lucky.”
So do the rest of the Huskers.
“He’s a part of the team, just like any of the other guys who are on the floor,” Pavella said. “Everybody matters. He helps us out daily in practice. He’s great to be around. The kids love being around him. He’s truly inspiring, not only to the kids but the coaches as well.”
Nick DeGennaro said that Yorktown is a community of people who step up when one of its members needs it.
“Everybody has shown us how well-loved Charlie is,” Nick DeGennaro said. “Today is a perfect example of that.”