If you’re going to the Parisppany Hills High School home football game on Saturday, make sure to wear gold. The game against West Morris Mendham High School starts at 1 p.m.
"We are planning to raise awareness for pediatric cancer at this weekend’s home game," said Todd Ricker, PHHS Assistant Principal/Athletic Director.
Last year, the Parsippany youth football league honored Mt. Tabor's Sean Ries, a then 5-year-old with a tumor in his brain. This year, PHHS joins the teams of the Morris County Youth Football League in hosting GOLD OUT games to raise awareness of Ries’ dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor (DNET), according to the Team Sean website.
Since both Sean, now age 6, and Sean’s older brother play for the Little Vikings, their mother Brenda Ries reached out to the Parsippany Hills Little Vikings Football organization “to see if they would consider dedicating one of their home games in September to raising awareness for childhood cancer,” said Brenda Ries, adding that they could honor Sean by wearing gold, the color of support for his cause.
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and DNET represents just 1.2 percent of all brain tumors in patients under the age of 20. The first sign that anything was wrong with Sean was a mild seizure that occurred on Feb. 2, 2012, according to TeamSean.org.
Ries said that Sean's prognosis is good, but he has a long fight ahead of him and “we have seen too many children die over the last year and a half.”
The Little Vikings agreed with no hesitation to participate.
"But it didn't stop there,” said Ries. “The president of our organization then went to the head of the Morris County Youth Football League (MCYFL), the league that ParHills plays in, and asked if the entire league would join in this GOLD OUT effort.”
The league quickly agreed and last weekend, 15 of the 19 towns that play in the MCYFL wore gold at their games to help raise awareness. The teams ranged from flag level all the way up to 8th grade.
“One thing we will be doing in Parsippany includes a balloon release at half-time of each of the eight games we will play on Saturday,” said Ries. “I have been overwhelmed by the response.”
All proceeds from all of the GOLD OUT days will go to the MCYFL Charities. Every year, MCYFL Charities distributes thousands of dollars to families in Morris County who are struggling with the economic hardships they have incurred in their fight against pediatric cancer.
“I couldn't be happier that we are now able to pay forward the generosity that was shown to us last year,” said Ries.
Last year, they donated $7,000 to the Ries family to help with Sean's medical costs.
“Last year ... my then 4-year old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor,” said Brenda Ries. “Over the last 18 months, Sean has endured three brain surgeries that resulted in removing about 80 percent of his tumor.”
Ries added that their focus last year was “simply surviving the nightmare we found ourselves in. This year however, we have been able to shift our focus a little to helping to raise awareness for this deadly disease.”Learn more about Sean and his fight at www.teamsean.org.