Raising money for cancer research one can and bottle at a time

— Marietta teen Celena Carfagno has spent the past ten months working to raise $1,000 for cancer research — 5 cents at a time.

With a little more than one month and a little less than $200 left to meet her goal and hand in her donation to the Carol Baldwin Ride for Research on Sept. 11, Carfagno continues to collect refundable cans and bottles from every source possible.

"I just want to help people," she said. "I've had family and friends who have died from cancer, and some who have survived, and it hurts when a family member dies."

Carfagno, 18, a recent graduate of Onondaga Junior/Senior High School, began her fundraising in October 2010, shortly after attending that year's Ride for Research. She was so impressed by the event she decided to begin her own campaign.

The Carol M. Baldwin Ride for Research is a motorcycle ride to raise funds for breast cancer research. It starts and ends at the Dinosaur Barb-B-Que in Syracuse.

Celena started her efforts by getting permission from her high school to put collection boxes (decorated with pink bow wrapping paper) around the school, in locations such as next to the main entry door outside the main office, in the teachers lounge and in her teacher Tim Mumford's classroom.

During the holidays, she wrote to all her family and friends and told them she did not want anyone to buy her Christmas gifts but instead asked them to send money for her fundraising; when she graduated this past June she told her parents she did not want a party or gifts but would rather receive donations or fundraising help.

"She said wanted to do something important, special, and memorable for her senior year. Something close to her heart," Celena's mother, Anna Carfagno, said.

By the end of the school year, Celena had raised about $625, which she put in a special bank account.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. he can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

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