Clearview Regional’s Hoagies 4 Hope recipient ‘overwhelmed’ by support

The Chiaradonna family, from Mullica Hill, one of the four recipients of the fundraiser, is using the money to pay for their cancer treatment medical bills

From left, Larry Chiaradonna, Heather and daughter Juliet, 3, of Mullica Hill, wait in line to receive their hoagies during the annual Hoagies 4 Hope event on Super Bowl Sunday at Clearview Regional High School. Heather, mother of Clearview Regional ninth-grade student Gavin Rodgers, is diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a brain cancer, and is one of the four recipients of this year’s fundraiser.

The Kansas City Chiefs weren’t the only big winners during last week’s Super Bowl Sunday. 

Clearview Regional High School had its sixth annual Hoagies 4 Hope Super Bowl Fundraiser on the morning of Feb. 2 and raised $24,085 for four local families

More than 400 students, staff and parent volunteers gathered at the high school to make and sell over 2,000 hoagies. Over $24,000 was raised last year for community members in need. Since its inception in 2015, the fundraiser has raised $118,375 for families in the school’s sending districts. 

Three of the recipients are Clearview families who have major medical issues. The fourth is a Mantua family devastated by a recent house fire.

“It’s very humbling and overwhelming to just see all these people come together to help you and it just goes to show you that there’s a lot of good people in this world,” said Heather Chiaradonna, one of the fundraiser’s recipients.

“I love our community and I think it’s great how they always come together to help people like me that need it.” 

Chiaradonna and her family have been residents of Mullica Hill for over seven years. Her son, Gavin Rodgers, is a freshman at Clearview Regional High School.

Chiaradonna was diagnosed in 2017 with glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord. She has since had chemo, radiation and brain surgery. Since the extended chemo plan doesn’t work for her type of tumor, she’s been seeking alternate treatments, such as high doses of vitamin C.

The money given to Chiaradonna will go toward medical bills, which she explained are not covered by insurance and are so expensive, she and her family have gone through their life savings. Her entire pension — she was a math teacher at Bridgeton High School before becoming too sick to continue — has been depleted. Treatments costs are in the thousands and even supplements aren’t covered. 

“It’s sad,” she acknowledged. “Cancer affects us all. When you can’t get treatments because of financial reasons, you’re scared because you don’t know if you’re going to die because you don’t have money to pay for treatments.

“Every little bit helps.” 

Proceeds from the fundraiser also will go to Matthew Ruden, a seventh grade student at Clearview Regional Middle School who has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome — a group of inherited disorders that mostly affect the skin, joints and blood vessel walls — and multiple congenital heart defects. One of Matthew’s heart defects is life threatening and requires open-heart surgery to repair; the operation is scheduled for spring. 

Another recipient, Tyler Keane, was on his way home from work on Nov. 23 when he was involved in a car accident that resulted in multiple broken ribs, a fractured neck and a traumatic brain injury. The Clearview alumnus — class of 2018 — was in a comatose state and finally opened his eyes on Dec. 9. He has three to four hours of occupational, speech and physical therapy daily.

The Allen family — Ryan, Elfreda and 5-year-old daughter Leah — also received funds after suffering a devastating house fire on Jan. 9 at their home in Mantua. Leah is a student at Sewell School.