All-Night Volleyball Scores for Charity
HMHS Students participate in the 19th annual overnight Charity Volleyball Marathon and raise $21,000.
What did you do last night?
By 9:30 p.m., 246 Haddonfield Memorial High School students had raised $21,000 for four charities of their choosing. And they did it over the last four days, following midterm exams.
Enter the “B Gym” along Sylvan Lake Avenue anytime after 8 p.m. Friday and you could feel the energy only teenage-philanthropists can generate. Upbeat, loud music pulses through the entryway. Grownups chatter and hold posts while eight teams of freshmen-through-senior students go head to head in the gym in simultaneous volleyball matches across four courts.
It is something to behold. And they’ve been doing it for 19 years.
Every Super Bowl weekend, weather permitting, the high school holds an annual charity volleyball marathon. It begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, and ends at 8 a.m. Saturday.
There are no shifts for participants. Students that participate are essentially in a lock-down in the school gym, with access to bathrooms and the cafeteria. Parents volunteer as guardians of the doors, the food committee, the treasury and referees.
Faculty member and event chairperson, Paul Brown, said, “All the credit goes to the kids, don’t say my name.”
Brown explained, “The event was once known as the Operation Smile Volleyball Marathon because all of the proceeds were directed to the nonprofit organization, Operation Smile.”
Operation Smile is a worldwide organization that heals cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities in young people.
Brown credited foundation of the event back in 1993 to former social studies teacher Patti Kalodi. He initially assisted faculty colleague, Ron Smith, for the six years after Kalodi’s departure, and eventually became chair of the event, himself.
Brown named several parents for their participation in support of the event. He said many contribute time, food and support for the last eight years. Mindy and Bob Ignarri, Helene Delaney, Lee and Beth Pease, Terri and Jeff Sikkemma, and Tina and Ted Theodoris, have helped for the past seven or eight years.
Until the last two years, all proceeds benefited Operation Smile. Now students help select local charities that will also benefit.
Senior captains for the “green team” Lauren Acerbo, Martha Theodoris and Stacy Widerman explained that while senior-level students can act as captains, they bring with them $100 in corporate contributions. Each player brings sponsorship of at least $60, plus a $10 registration fee.
Brown said that even kids who end up not making the event due to illness will show up after the event to make their contribution "without being told to."
This year the senior class co-chairs were Caroline Pease and Katie Sullivan. The two girls sorted the teams into “fair” groups of classmates by gender, age and athletic ability. Every team had custom-made shirts and team names.
Students will keep score and play competitively until about three in the morning when Brown says, “Nobody chases it.”
Free cafeteria offerings included a homemade multi-foot-long hoagie prepared by Haddonfield elementary school teacher, Rose Hymerling; wings from P.J. Whelihan’s at 10 p.m.; pizza (the only purchased item) at midnight, cookies and ice cream at 2 a.m.; and breakfast at 4 a.m.
HMHS principal, Mike Wilson, was on hand for the festivities. He takes a usual shift from eight until one in the morning.
Wilson said, “The event involves more than a third of the school…the event gets them to know other kids in school.” Wilson was excited to announce that the evening had exceeded earnings from the year before, by $1,000 at 9:30 p.m. for a total of $21,000 raised.
Wilson was off-duty by 1 a.m., when Dean of Students Shannon Plunkett was scheduled to cover, with Assistant Principal Chuck Klaus on hand for the morning hours.