They came to play a varsity soccer game, on Oct. 5, in Little Falls.
And while Passaic Valley and Cedar Grove did play on a beautiful autumn afternoon, the message was much more powerful than a 3-1 final score.
For the fifth straight year, the neighboring schools combined for a Breast Cancer Awareness Game. And the message was simple, yet powerful.
Support the fighters.
Honor the survivors.
Remember the taken.
It seems when it comes to cancer, there isn’t anyone who hasn’t been affected, whether it be a family member, friend or friend of a friend.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with it, the color pink takes on a new meaning.
Passaic Valley’s head girls soccer coach, Kathleen Berthold, has worked hard in putting this game together.
“We really appreciate everyone who comes out for this game,” said Berthold. “Every year, we hope for good weather, and this year, especially, it was really nice out. But we’re here to celebrate those who have survived and beaten cancer, and also think of those who we have lost, but who remain in our hearts.”
Many players lined up with their mom, or a grandparent, or relative, to walk across the field, during the pre-game ceremony.
- PV’s team manager Madison Chiavola was accompanied by her mom Jessica, as they remembered Madison’s aunt, Maria Chiavola.
- Cedar Grove player Noelle Nicosia remembered her grandmother, Mary Nicosia, who passed away from ovarian cancer. She was also accompanied by her grandfather, Lou Guarino, who beat prostrate cancer this year.
- Junior midfielder, Taylor Hill, honored her aunt AnnMarie Hill, who is a 6-month breast cancer survivor. Taylor was accompanied by her mother, Kathy Hill, herself a PV graduate.
- Sophomore defender, Emily Castro, honored her grandmother, Julia Castro, who is on the road to recovery after just being diagnosed with breast cancer last month.
- Junior goalie Madison Leech honored two members of her Hornet Family. Her mom Dottie Leech, PV Class of 1989, where she was in the marching and concert band, Girls Show and the bowling team, will celebrate 10 years of being cancer free this coming Oct. 26.
- Madison’s aunt, Janie D’Aloia, also a PV grad, was on the White X and White Cheer Girls Show teams. Janie was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Amy Niosi, a 10-year veteran member of the PV faculty in the English Department, was accompanied by her daughter Ariel. The two remembered Jimmy Parisi, Amy’s dad, who passed away last November from prostate cancer.
- PV senior captain Zuania Victoria supported her family friend Valerie Arrabito, who is currently cancer free.
- The Hornets welcomed back PV soccer alumni and current PV staff member Kayla Campbell. Kayla was accompanied by her father Ron, a 1986 PV grad and Kayla honored her mom, Vicki Campbell, also a PV ’86 graduate. On November 12. Vicki will be celebrating 5 years cancer free. Ron and Vicki are Hornet high school sweethearts that have been together since the age of 14, and married for 27 years.
- Brittany Bove, a recent PV grad, returned to honor her mom, Wendy, a 1985 PV graduate and former Hornets cheerleader. Wendy has been battling brain cancer for the last 17 years. She is a very strong and determined woman. Faith, family, and strength have given her the strength to get through the hard times. Watching Brittany play sports while at PV is what brought Wendy so much joy, according to Berthold.
- A 2000 PV grad, Erin Wilks, who now works at her alma mater, was accompanied by her husband Gary and their two future Hornet daughters Emma, Class of 2034 and Cassie Wilks, Class of 2036.
Erin’s dad, Roger McNeill, graduated PV in 1971 and her mother, Wendy was a ’72 graduate. Erin’s sister, Meredith, like Erin, a 4-year soccer player, was graduated from PV in 2005 and Wendy and Roger’s youngest son, the late Colin McNeill, was a 2008 PV grad.
Wendy McNeill, who was a member of the PV basketball and softball clubs and was also Green Chief for Girls Show, was diagnosed with breast cancer this past February is current cancer free following her surgery. She was honored at the ceremonies.
Read more about the McNeills and Wilks here.
“I was fortunate in that I was diagnosed early,” said Wendy at the ceremony. “I can’t say it enough, don’t put off getting checked. I’m so grateful to the doctors, my family and everyone in this community for being there for me.”
While Passaic Valley came out a winner in the actual game, no team was defeated on this day.
And the sentiment among all who participated, or watched from the stands, is that one day, this game will no longer be needed to play, since cancer will be eradicated.