Swish for Kids brings smiles and hoops for cancer patients and survivors

It just keeps getting bigger and better.

St. Ephrem’s Youth Basketball Program hosted its fourth annual Swish for Kids. The event, a fundraiser to aid families who have children diagnosed with cancer, was a success thanks to local colleges, coaches, and young and eager basketball fans who are cancer patients or survivors.

On Sunday, January 25, Saint Patrick’s Gym hosted the event as the St. Francis Terriers and College of Mount Saint Vincent Dolphins men’s basketball teams spread cheer by teaching the 40-plus children in attendance how they prepare for games. The morning included drills, pickup games and exercises. The children also received trophies and were treated to a pizza party.

The college athletes were thrilled to participate in something bigger than the sport. “I think it’s a great day for the community. To see them smile makes us all feel really good. It’s fun to play basketball but to give back, it means more,” said Terriers forward Amdy Fall, who attended last year’s event.

The chairperson of Swish for Kids, Frankie Stella, is proud of what the tradition has turned into. “From the first year into now, it’s tripled in size,” he noted. “Being a cancer survivor, I always felt there’s a lot we could do just to get away from your everyday thoughts of cancer and treatments that you go through so we came up with this idea. It’s a great day and event for children that are battling cancer and survivors. Not only do the kids find it to be a great time but also moms and dads and sisters of these kids too. They forget about life for a while.”

The day, which included raffles, helped raise funds for The Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation, also known as Frankie’s Mission. Camille Orrichio Loccisano, founder of Frankie’s Mission, named after her son Francesco, who lost his battle to osteosarcoma and treatment-related leukemia in 2007 at the age of 17, discussed the day’s significance.

“It makes me really happy because my son had a goal,” she said of the growing event. “It was something he wanted. He could’ve just been sick, but he fought during it. He thought about the other children and wanted them to have some happiness and some reprieve.”

Loccisano also expressed her appreciation to the college athletes and Investors Bank, the event’s sponsor. “These are really busy kids. They have classes. They put in a lot of time to practice so for them to take a whole day out coming and being with us is very meaningful,” she said. “Investors Bank really gives back to the community.”

“We’re extremely community minded,” said Biagio Madaio of Investors. “It’s a privilege and honor for us to participate with the school and that’s one of our main objectives.”


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