The Port Jefferson School District recently hosted PJ Madness, a basketball tournament for students and teachers, organized by Earl L. Vandermeulen High School science teacher Mr. Charles Hafner. Along with friendly competition, a message of strength and inspiration grew from the event that raised thousands of dollars for an organization devoted to helping people living with cancer.
Mr. Hafner shared the story of Mr. Matthew DiStefano, a Suffolk County teacher who recently succumbed to kidney cancer and whose spirit and message of “We Get To” was shared throughout the district. Port Jefferson Middle School teachers Mrs. Deirdre Filippi and Mrs. Jeannette Garofola took the message to their colleagues and students, and proceeds from the tournament, T-shirts and other donations totaling $5,368 was donated to his namesake organization, the DezyStrong Foundation. The nonprofit helps support and encourage those living with a life-threatening disease.
“It is heartwarming when a school community comes together to support an initiative of this caliber,” Port Jefferson Superintendent of Schools Mrs. Jessica Schmettan said. “It not only shows the character of our staff and students, it reinforces Mr. DiStefano’s message of living each day to the fullest.”
Photo caption: Port Jefferson Middle School students stood in unity in their DezyStrong T-shirts.
Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson School District