This year’s Parkway PTO Fishing Derby on June 4 raised funds that will go toward medical costs for a student at Parkway Elementary School who suffered severe burns in an accident earlier this year.
Ryan Jastrzembski, 11, is currently undergoing extensive treatments for his injuries. The youth is known among his family and friends for his love of fishing, so he is working on regaining enough strength to hold a rod. His classmates have crafted decorative fish to help him decorate his hospital room.
The annual fishing derby is open only to Parkway Elementary students. This year, the event was sponsored by the Pennsauken Fishing Club and Liz Grumbacher Real Estate. Each child paid $10 to enter, which covered expenses for bait, refreshments and prizes.
Derby participants were encouraged to wear blue, Jastrzembski’s favorite color, and all prize categories were named after him. The nonprofit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) was hosted by Parkway’s Circle of Giving Club in Jastrzembski’s honor.
More than 60 students registered for the derby, while the lemonade stand raised over $600. Proceeds from both events went directly to the Jastrzembski family to help with medical costs.
Melissa Jost, president of Parkway’s PTO, emphasized how exceptional it was to include the nonprofit for Jastrzembski at this year’s event.
“It was a great way to honor Ryan, because instead of doing Alex’s Lemonade Stand, like we usually do, we did it for (Jastrzembski), which was really special.”
Jastrzembski’s sister and grandmother were at the derby and received an honorary membership to the Pennsauken Fishing Club on his behalf that establishes him as a lifelong member.
Jost noted students at Parkway were inspired to help their classmate by participating in the derby, and she expressed gratitude for all the families who attended.
“The concept of giving back and taking care of our own in our community, I think really resonated with the children,” she noted. “It really hits home when you’re helping a child who literally went to your school or lives in your neighborhood. I think the impact and meaning of that is really important.
“It was a beautiful way to showcase some of the amazing things our school does.”