Cardinals Vs. Cancer


Jaide Hinds-Clarke, Staff Writer

On Friday, January 15, 2016, the Westwood Boys Basketball Team hosted their Third Annual Cardinals vs. Cancer Alumni Basketball Fundraiser to raise money for Westwood Middle School sixth grade student, Patrick Flynn.

John Santulli has been the Head Coach of the Boys’ program for nine years. “Our program is built on toughness and unselfishness,” said Santulli. A program that prides themselves to be unselfish is built on the concept that the team/program is bigger than any one player; Santulli embodies this concept as he hosts a charity event each year.

In the past, the money raised by this event was helpful, but at this year’s game, fundraising took on a life of its own. As the final bell rang ending the school day, several volunteers and parents began setting up the cafeteria with various raffle prizes, concessions and blue “Playing for Patrick” T-Shirts.

A packed gym of over roughly 1,000 gave Flynn a standing ovation as he was introduced with the varsity starting lineup. “Westwood is such a great place to be because everyone cares about each other,” said senior captain, Kyle Bravin. “When word spreads about a kid like Patrick, people are willing to help out and show support in any way they can.”

After the national anthem was played, Westwood Cardinals (4-7) took on the Fair Lawn Cutters. The bleachers were filled with members of the Freshman and JV basketball teams all wearing their blue T-shirts, as well as the entire girl’s basketball organization. Many elementary and middle school children also came out, supporting their classmate in his battle against cancer.

Once the Cardinals and Cutters headed into the locker room to adjust their gameplans, sixth grade travel teams from both Westwood and Washington Township gave the crowd a halftime show. Patrick was accompanied by former NBA star and five-time world champion Ron Harper, who threw the ceremonial tip at halftime in support of the fight against cancer. Although Patrick was not cleared to play, after winning the tip, he sat on the sidelines, all smiles cheering on his team.

In the travel game’s final seconds, the referee called a foul and Washington Township coach Jamil Manigault sent Patrick in to take the shot. As number 35, Patrick approached the foul line, the gym went silent — but not for long. Flynn made the shot and was quickly surrounded by the players from both teams. The crowd got on their feet once more, giving Flynn a moment he won’t forget.

The game remained close, but the Westwood Cardinals battled their way to a 45-42 victory over the Cutters. Santulli said, “What makes this year’s event special is that we are all a small part of Flynn’s fight against cancer.  He is a tough kid and we can all learn a lot from his attitude.”