Home Voorhees News Gallery: Shooting hoops to help raise money

Gallery: Shooting hoops to help raise money

A teacher of 35 years, Noreen Saggese walked around the Voorhees Middle School (VMS) gymnasium with a camera in hand. Students lined up behind two foul lines and waited to take a shot at the hoop. Saggese was not taking photos of an ordinary day of basketball shooting. She was documenting the support of teachers, faculty and most importantly, students, in the effort to help raise money for the fight against cancer.

The 2nd annual basketball shoot off for the cure was held in the VMS gym on Thursday, Nov. 1, for the entire school day.

Classes were brought into the gym based on grades, Saggese said.

Each child paid $1 for a chance to shoot three times at the basketball hoop. For every basket made, one ticket was given for a chance to win signed Philadelphia Flyer’s paraphernalia donated by Flyer’s coach Peter Laviolette.

VMS’ fight for the cure did not just appear out of nowhere. Saggese, herself, is a cancer survivor, she said

Though the money raised at the shoot off is not specifically for Saggese, the funds are still going toward finding a cure.

VMS raised a total of $2,525, according to the Pennies in Action webpage.

Established in 2007 by Uschi Keszler, an-Olympic athlete, coach, and double cancer survivor, the organization is a nonprofit charitable organization “committed to furnishing the scientists with all the tools and resources necessary to accomplish the goal of removing the threat of cancer one vaccine at a time.”

Saggese and Keszler share a further bond besides surviving cancer — both women were treated and inspired to help make a difference by University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Brian Czerniecki.

Czerniecki and his team worked on clinical trials to find a way to reduce the number of reoccurring tumors for seven years.

Keszler said the vaccine is currently in “phase three” testing, which will allow the vaccine to become FDA approved for standard treatment. But continually funding the project is the main goal.

She said most vaccine test trials only look at the beginning stages of the vaccine development.

“It’s like running a relay and they never put in an anchor man at the end,” Keszler said.

Pennies for Action will continually raise money to aid in further research and development for the cure, she said.

VMS is one of the first schools to “go purple” under Pennies in Action last year.

Keszler said for a school or organization to “go purple,” a minimum of $1 per person must be raised.

With a smile from ear to ear, Saggese was happy to see students line up and donate a dollar toward the cause.

The ultimate goal for Saggese is to have the entire Voorhees School District involved in the shoot off. People have to be educated about this vaccine since treatment needs to begin immediately, Saggese and Keszler said.

According to Keszler, the vaccine needs to be the first treatment. If the cancerous cells are removed before the vaccine is given, the patent will not be able to qualify for the treatment since the vaccine is still in phase three of clinical studies, she said.

In addition to fundraising, Keszler and Saggese hope to educate all students. Between showing a video explaining the vaccine, to presentations and finally the shoot off, Saggese and Keszler see the fundraising efforts as a way to thank Czerniecki.

“I owe him my life,” said Saggese. “We both owe him our lives.”

For more information on Pennies in Action and Czerniecki’s vaccine, visit www.penniesinaction.org.

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