Last Wednesday, Liverpool High School hosted some very special guests.
It wasn’t Syracuse University men’s basketball stars Eric Devendorf and Arinze Onuaku, though they stopped by, nor was it their assistant coach, Lazarus Sims.
No, the guests of honor were Bianca Bresadola and her family, including mom Stephanie, dad Marc and twin sister Mia.
Bianca, 7, is a second-grader at Chestnut Hill Elementary who is battling osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer, and the sixth most common type of cancer in children. Although other types of cancer can even-tually spread to parts of the skeleton, osteosarcoma is one of the few that actually begin in bones and sometimes spread elsewhere, usually to the lungs or other bones. Bianca has undergone treatment for the disease since this summer and faces more in order to defeat the cancer.
In order to help her family to fund her care, CHE organized Baskets for Bianca, a charity basketball game between CHE and LHS staff held Wednesday Oct. 22. Tickets were available for $2 at the door, and the event also included a 50/50 raffle, $1 raffle and T-shirts for sale, as well as donation boxes where additional money was collected. CHE also raffled off a basketball signed by the entire SU men’s team, which was delivered to the Bresadolas by Devendorf, Onuaku and Sims, as well as another autographed ball and poster donated by CHE art teacher Susan Fix.
Despite the star power on LHS’ team — former pro player Jon Ferris, a 2000 LHS grad and current teacher at the school, played on their team — CHE won the battle, 62-60.
The event was organized by CHE’s physical education teacher Michael Zachery and pre-K teacher Meg Bellomo, both of whom had the Bresadola twins as students and wanted to do something to assist the family.
“We had done a basketball game for the kids and teachers last year,” Bellomo said. “Mike got the idea to do it again, but to make it a charity event for Bianca and her family.”
“I talked to [Principal] Martha [O’Leary] and got permission to do it, then I started making calls,” Zachery said. “Lazarus Sims is an excellent friend of mine, so I gave him a call to see if there was anything he’s be willing to do to help us out.”
Sims agreed to get a ball signed by the entire team and also offered to have it delivered by two of the players the night of the game.
In addition, the school sold “Baskets for Bianca” T-shirts in the week leading up to the game; more than 200 shirts were sold before the event, and students wore them or school colors of orange and blue the day of the game.
Zachery said the district was very helpful in organizing the tournament, even moving a volleyball game that was supposed to take place at the high school that night.
In total, the event raised $? for the Bresadola family, which will help pay for her treatment.
And the district will continue to raise money for Bianca and her family. On Nov. 5, the high school basketball team will play representatives from 93Q; a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Bresadolas.
Bianca is still in store for more treatment. According to her aunt, Terri Gilbert, who has acted as the family’s spokesperson, she’ll be traveling to Texas Nov. 2 for a new round.
“The new chemo here wasn’t working,” Gilbert said, “so they will be trying a different drug and need to go to MD Anderson Hospital in Texas. Any money raised [at Baskets for Bianca] will help offset that new treatment.”
Stephanie Bresadola said Bianca was happy to be feeling well enough to attend the game.
“It’s so amazing,” she said. “It’s done her a lot of good to see how many people care about her.”
Zachery said that’s why CHE held the event.
“Everybody who’s met these little girls loves them,” he said. “They’re so sweet and so full of life. They’re like little grown-ups. We wanted to do everything we could to help them and their family.”
“They just bring out the best in you,” she said. “They’re just angelic.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club’s Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.