LATHAM, NY- The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) is proud to announce Farmingdale High School (Section VIII) as the 2018 winner of the Community Service Challenge. Farmingdale was chosen as the winning school by the NYSPHSAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which is comprised of two current student-athletes from each of the 11 sections.
Established in the Fall of 2010, the program encourages students to get involved in their local community and beyond. Students and schools determined and executed a project, then submitted the project to their Section. The Sections then chose a representative for consideration to win the state award.
The Farmingdale High School Varsity Leaders Club and the Girls Varsity Lacrosse team, led by captain McKenzie Gaghan, started a project called Blessings for Bella. Isabella Inzerillo was diagnosed with Medullablastoma last winter, and at just three years old, had to undergo life changing brain surgery to remove a tumor. Bella went through radiation and chemotherapy treatments all while her parents, Justin and Michelle, were raising a newborn son Joseph John.
“Bella has taught us all the true meaning of strength, courage and willpower,” said Tracy Wiener-Provenz, Farmingdale Girls Lacrosse Coach. “She epitomizes all that it means to be a Daler. Her fight has become our fight and we are better people for it.”
Bella was made an honorary member of all Farmingdale High School athletic teams. The Varsity Leaders Club organized a sing-a-long for Bella’s fourth birthday. The Girls Varsity Lacrosse team raised money for the Blessings for Bella fund, ran clinics for youth players, organized a 5K run/walk at the high school and created an online clothing store that raised over $2,000 for Bella.
“Bella was not just an honorary member of our team, she became part of our lacrosse family,” said McKenzie Gaghan, Farmingdale Senior Captain. “Bella is a warrior princess who inspires us to live in the moment and persevere through any task set in front of her. Even though our season has come to an end, our relationship with Bella will continue in her fight against pediatric brain cancer. The Farmingdale community and the Long Island lacrosse community rallied behind Bella and her strength showing that no one fights alone.”
“It is an honor for Farmingdale High School to be recognized for this prestigious award,” said Jeanne Berkoski, Farmingdale Athletic Director. “We take great pride in all our student-athletes and the relationships we have with our community at large. Our coaching staff is proud of all the accolades our athletes and teams receive, however they are even more proud of how they pay it forward to a place they call home.”
In all, the Varsity Leaders Club and the Girls Lacrosse Team have raised over $5,000 for the Blessings for Bella fund during the 2017-18 school year. The team slogan for this past season was “No One Fights Alone-Bella 6” with the number six as a legacy number at Farmingdale, which will be retired at the end of the 2018 season in honor of Bella. One of the major goals of the campaign was to raise awareness of pediatric brain cancer.
Farmingdale High School will be presented an award and recognized for their accomplishments at the NYSPHSAA Recognition Luncheon during the Central Committee Meeting on July 24th in Lake Placid, NY.
Previous Community Service Challenge State Champions-
2017 – Akron High School (Section VI)
2016 – Mahopac High School (Section I)
2015 – Kings Park High School (Section XI)
2014 – Arlington High school (Section I)
2013 – Columbia High School (Section 2)
2012 – Ossining High School (Section I)
2011 – Adirondack Central School (Section III)
About NYSPHSAA (Twitter: @NYSPHSAA | Facebook: NYSPHSAA | YouTube: NYSPHSAASports):
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association Inc. is a non-profit, voluntary, educational service organization composed of public, parochial, and private schools dedicated to providing equitable and safe competition for the students of its member schools. The organization conducts 32 championship events and governs the rules and regulations of high school athletics in New York State. Membership is open to secondary schools providing interschool athletic activities for boys and girls in grades 7-12.