St. John Neumann plans annual Mini-Thon

Students at St. John Neumann Regional Academy, home of the Knights, are looking forward to raising funds in the community to directly assist families dealing with a diagnosis of children’s cancer. It will be the third year in a row that Neumann students have pulled an all-“knighter” in the gym.

Seventh through 12th graders will stay awake from 6 p.m. March 29, to 6 a.m. March 30, enjoying music with a D.J., lots of snacks and fun activities. Sixth graders will participate from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Seniors Molly Foresman and MayLyn Ettinger have taken charge this year to reach out to sponsors in the business community and to plan the games and activities.

“We’re going to raise more than last year,” Foresman said, hoping to beat out the $10,000 raised in 2018.

The Neumann Thon is patterned after the 46-hour-Thon at Penn State, held in the Bryce Jordan Center with a crowd of thousands, according to an informational flier sent home with the local students.

Funds raised by the students will go to the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center, which provides direct assistance to families to ease their worries about the cost of medical treatment, medical bills and other expenses.

For Neumann students the issue of pediatric cancer is personal.

Foresman and Ettinger, along with most of the rest of the student body, remember 11-year-old Angelina Miele, who passed away in 2015 from a rare cancer called synovial sarcoma.

Ettinger remembers Angelina, who was a few years younger, as bubbly and talkative and friends with everyone.

“It was definitely very hard on our school community,” she said, “like there’s a hole there.”

Angelina’s mother Brenda Miele recently spoke to the Neumann students about the hardships that go along with a child’s cancer diagnosis, to underscore how important and worthwhile the fundraiser will be and what can happen when a community reaches out to help.

Once Angelina and her family arrived at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 2015, “The expenses started immediately,” Miele said, “but we never had to pay for any of her hospitalization or medication,” she told the students.

“I did not work for 18 months,” Miele noted. “When you hear that your child has cancer you want to make sure you’re with them every second of every day.”

When Angelina felt good, they went on excursions to the aquarium, the zoo and other places that are expensive but were important to do when Angelina could.

Those kinds of needs are what Thon funds can help address, Miele pointed out.

“I was faced with the fact that I might have to sell my home, give up my car, you name it. I’m a single mom and I was going to stay with my daughter regardless.”

With the help of family, friends, neighbors and the community, Miele was able to manage it all while doing exactly what she needed to do for Angelina.

She told the students, “I was able to do it because of people like you.”

Funds raised come from local business donations, a registration fee for participants and donations from family and friends.

Students also hold dress-down days. They will be setting up a grill to cook and sell burgers at Sam’s Club.

Online donations also are accepted at