Charity basketball game to benefit Central student battling cancer
This year's staff versus students charity basketball game at Hampton Middle School on March 31 will raise funds for the family of Will Pilarski, a third-grade student at Central Elementary who is being treated for medulloblastoma, a form a brain cancer.
The game will begin at 3:15 p.m. and tickets cost $2 in advance or $3 at the door.
Marlynn Lux, acting principal at Hampton Middle School, said the event is organized each year by sixth-grade teacher Joseph Lagnese with fellow staff members who will be playing against the eighth-grade basketball team.
Will, who will turn 10 in June, was first diagnosed with the cancer shortly after his sixth birthday, which had spread throughout his brain and down his spine. He followed the diagnosis with surgery to remove the main tumor and aggressive radiation and chemotherapy, causing major energy depletion and hair loss.
With routine MRI scans for two years, there were no signs of the cancer, said Thomas Pilarski, Will's dad.
However, this past November doctors discovered a new tumor in an area of the brain that isn't operable. So, they are using chemotherapy as their current treatment plan, he said.
Will, in the meantime, has proven his energy and talent doesn't take a backseat. As a competitive level five gymnast at Jewart's Gymnastics, he took first place this year in the rings.
He also “truly loves baseball,” his dad said. Will plays in the Hampton spring league.
“When he isn't at the gym or the baseball field, you can find him playing any sport he can convince anyone to play around him,” Thomas said.
Other favorites include geocaching and Pokemon GO and “playing on his iPad like any 9-year-old boy,” Pilarski said.
This math whiz even skipped a grade level in the subject and continues to receive straight-As, despite his doctor saying the treatment could challenge him academically.
He attends school except during chemotherapy weeks. His sister, Halee, 11, a fifth-grader at Central, brings home his schoolwork during those times. He also has a brother, Noah, 12, in seventh grade, and another sister, Tyler, 14, in eighth grade.
Lux said the basketball game also will feature a basket auction and a 50/50 raffle at halftime where all the proceeds will go toward Will and his family.
Lagnese, who graduated from Hampton in 1987, said the event is set to benefit someone or a group in need. Last year's event benefitted the All About the Warrior Foundation for military veterans.
As far as the eighth-grade competition, he said while some of the staff are athletic, it's getting harder every year.
“We get older every year and the eighth-graders stay the same age,” he said.
For ticket information, visit the school website, ht-sd.org.
Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.