How Daniele’s dreams changed me too

Candice Shelbrack

Charlie Connelly, Staff Reporter

Following months of preparation and anticipation, Tuesday March 19 marked the date for the “Dreams for Daniele” fundraiser.  The assembly was held to support local kindergartener Daniele Santucci, who was born with cerebral palsy and who, shortly after her sixth birthday, was diagnosed with liver cancer.  After having gone through extensive chemotherapy and additional medical treatments in prior months, Daniele was still able to come with her family to see all of the support that the RB community was able to offer.

The assembly centered around participants who had signed up to have their hair cut or heads shaved in support of Daniele.  Female participants got at least eight inches cut and male participants had their heads entirely shaved.  Some chose to exceed the standards.  Junior Nichole Cleveland and English/Special Education teacher Colleen Ireland shaved their heads entirely instead of cutting eight inches.  Once everyone who had signed up to have their hair cut had finished, students from the stands began to come down, one after another, standing in line to cut their hair in support of Daniele as well.

When I got to the assembly, I personally did not know what to expect.  I knew that there would be a great deal of excitement, but I truly could not have predicted the events that unfolded.  In all honesty, I do not think anyone could have.  I think that it is one thing to talk and spread the word about an event like this one, but when it is actually the day of the event, you never know what will happen.

From my point of view, I thought that this fundraiser was extremely significant, but the immensity of it really did not hit me until I saw Daniele in person. It is one thing to see pictures and hear so many things about one person, but when you see them with your own two eyes, what was once only words becomes a reality. The fullest extent of my heart went out to Daniele and her family, and a breathtaking feeling overcame me, as I’m sure the same feeling was felt by so many others who had the privilege to be at the event.

I had a chance to talk with sophomore Matea Zaper, who was one of the fearless girls who, at the last minute, went down to go get her hair trimmed eight inches. From a male’s perspective, it is easy to say that getting your hair cut is no big deal, but for a girl it is definitely the contrary.

Matea said, ” Eight inches is a ton of hair to get cut at once, and for that reason alone, I made up my mind that I would not get my hair cut. But when I got to the assembly, and when I saw Daniele up on the big screen, my heart absolutely melted.” Matea then gave in and went down to the line and got her hair cut.

She said,” I know my hair is a lot shorter, and for a girl, that was not an easy thing to do, but when I think about who I was doing it for, I know that I made the right decision.” Matea, along with a group of her friends, all don shorter hair styles now, but if they could do it over again, they all know that they would do it in a heart beat.

Assistant Principal John Passarella preaches day after day the “Six Pillars of Character.”  While I abide by the pillars, I do not like hearing about them 24/7.  When I hear the Six Pillars over and over again, I cannot stand it.  Passarella always says, “It’s a good day to be a Bulldog.”  Until March 19, that saying did not hold eight for me.  When he said it in front of the whole student body, with a lump in his throat, I was moved.  I truly was proud to be a Bulldog.  To be a part of something bigger than myself in support of an ill little girl made me realize that it truly is great to be a part of the RB community. We, as a school not only showed dedication, but we also showed true heart, and that won’t be lost on anyone who witnessed the event anytime soon.

With the fundraiser in the past, the fight for Daniele is definitely not over. There is a long road ahead of  her, but with the support she has, nothing is impossible. The fundraiser and preparations prior has raised over twelve thousand dollars for Daniele and her family. With high hopes for the future, I can only imagine that that number will grow substantially. Although the money is significant in helping Daniele, what else is important can’t be counted. It can’t be counted because it isn’t tangible. The most important thing is the triumph of an entire community coming together to help someone. The excitement that Daniele had on her face to be an honorary Bulldog could not be described in words, and that is all thanks to the exuberance the students showed her.

No single dollar value can represent the hearts that were touched March 19. The day was a major help for Daniele and her battle, and I know for Daniele, myself, and the rest of the community, it will be a day to remember.