March 27, 2009


Little hopping goes a long way

HoppingBob Ellis/staff photographer
Luca Canzano, 4, right, joins with YMCA pre-k classmates in a hop-a-thon to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association March 19.

Living and Leisure Editor

Donna DeGrazia didn’t want to push it with the economy, raising funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and set a goal for her pre-kindergartners to raise $500 for the organization.
The YMCA teacher made up a chart to color as the kids met their goal in their special “Hop-A-Thon,” where the 4- and 5-year-olds did as many hops as possible in a two-minute period, obtaining donations from family and friends for their efforts.
DeGrazia had to set up another goal chart. And then another one.
“We filled in our goal chart with one child,” she said. “We made a new goal, and set the goal at $1,000,” she said Thursday.
After all the hops and all the donations were tallied, the class of 18 raised $1,553.56 for the MDA with their hop-a-thon held last week, and presented the check to the MDA on Thursday.
“Let me tell you about that 56 cents,” said DeGrazia, talking to two MDA officials who came up to their Binghamton office for the proceeds. “One little boy broke open his piggy bank for $4.56,” she said of her student, Jack Williams, who emptied it for the cause. “Most of it was members of the community,” she said. “It was the generosity of the community and the kids.”
She said two parents work at Cortland Community Re-entry Program and their family raised $100. The company matched that. Local plumber Ron Van Dee put in a huge chunk. Maria Canzano, grandma to Luca, a pre-K student, said she and her daughter, Abby Canzano asked relatives and friends for donations. They raised $65.
“I feel great,” said Abby Canzano. “It’s nice to give to a charity that benefits, especially when there’s a child in the community who has muscular dystrophy. It’s nice for kids to learn about it.”
DeGrazia told the kids about Noah Cole of Cortland, a 10-year-old boy with muscular dystrophy who goes to Barry Elementary School. The kids learned about the disease, which affects everyone differently. It is a group of inherited muscular disease where the muscle fibers are unusually susceptible to damage. The MDA raises funds for local families.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Noah said of the hop-a-thon.
He and his parents came to a special party held at the YMCA where kids were honored for their efforts, with MDA officials there.
“I think your group is amazing,” said Laura Lee Friedah, district director of the MDA of South Central New York. “You guys are such great hoppers and wonderful people. Thank you very much ... The money that you raised helps Noah’s family purchase his wheelchair. “
Noah, who uses a wheelchair to walk because of his muscular dystophy, got to see a replay of their hop-a-thon. He told this reporter that his wheelchair is “fun.” “I can actually do donuts without falling over.”
Friedah said the group’s efforts will also help Noah attend MDA summer camp, especially designed for people with muscular dystrophy. One of his favorite activities at camp is accessing a climbing wall in his wheelchair. He can also zip down a line he is tethered to, whipping to the ground in his wheel chair. “I go 50 miles per hour,” he said. “This is going to be my third summer there.”
“It costs $800 to send a child with muscular dystrophy to summer camp. You almost sent two kids to summer camp,” said Friedah.
“Seventy-eight cents from every dollar that we raise goes back to programs and services that we provide. The money raised in this hop-a-thon will benefit local families in Cortland County,” Friedah said. The agency covers 11 counties, including Cortland.
“I think it’s great,” said Noah’s mom, Maggie Francis of Cortland. “I love it that they can help out. And they wanted to meet him.”


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