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Riverdale High raises money for Childhood Cancer Awareness month

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Sep 9, 2021

Dominick and his mom, Yesica Nino. PHOTO PROVIDED


The Raiders have paired up with Barbara’s Friends and Golisano Children’s Hospital to help raise money for Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

“It’s amazing. This is kids helping kids,” Barbara’s Friends Senior Director Amy Frith said. “It’s heartwarming and incredible to know that kids in the community want to help kids their own age.”

Riverdale High School has raised money in the past for Barbara’s Friends, but this year they wanted to go bigger, which is why Dominick Nino, an 11-year-old fighting leukemia, designed a T-shirt the school began selling last week. Frith said Dominick was very excited about designing the T-shirt.

The limited edition T-shirt, which sold for $10, is already sold out. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go towards Barbara’s Friends to support kids who are battling cancer.

Dominick Nino designed a T-shirt, which Riverdale High School has sold to raise money for Barbara's Friends, which supports children diagnosed with cancer at Golisano Children's Hospital. PHOTO PROVIDED

District Spokesperson Rob Spicker said Riverdale quickly raised $4,000 and donations are being made on top of that. The T-shirts were worn by students and staff to school on Friday, and during that night’s football game.

Riverdale High School raised money for Golisano Children’s Hospital two years ago and raised $2,000.  

Frith said the children’s cancer fund of Barbara’s Friends supports the entire oncology unit. Funds support such things as helping a family pay for medication, transportation to get to and from treatment, emergency assistance and toys for the unit.

It “supports that unit, so every child’s needs and families needs are met at their time of need,” Frith said.

A Zoom meeting was put together Wednesday between Riverdale High School and Dominick and his mom, Yesica Nino.

Riverdale High School Principal Scott Cook began the Zoom meeting by thanking Dominick.

“We want to thank you and celebrate you for your amazing shirt and all that you have done to allow us to partner with you to raise awareness and basically to support you and this fight with you,” he said of the T-shirt, which depicts a scene of a football field, a goal post and football soaring above the words “In this family no one fights alone.” “This amazing design you have inspired a lot of people. We are going to be celebrating you on Friday as well. Your shirt is all over this place.”

Dominick went from playing a soccer game in January to being diagnosed with leukemia hours later when he was 10 years old. The young boy began experiencing pain in his legs, which was attributed to growing pains, or a minor soccer injury. That pain ended up waking him up in the middle of the night and his parents knew something was wrong.

Tests were run in Naples, where he was taken to the emergency room. The lab findings resulted in an ambulance ride to Golisano Children’s Hospital where additional blood work was done.

Dominick is now undergoing aggressive treatments, which will include month-long stays at Golisano Children’s Hospital as he receives inpatient chemotherapy.

Frith said the money Riverdale High School has raised will help all the children in the unit. Barbara’s Friends, though, will help Dominick and his family as he soon will be sent for a bone marrow transplant and will need assistance with housing while there because it is a couple month process.

During the Wednesday Zoom meeting, Dominick and his mom were both wearing the T-shirt he designed.

“We are so thankful for you guys to pick his drawing,” Yesica Nino said. “He is excited. We are going to be rooting for you guys when you guys play.”

Cheerleaders, the football team and coaches filled a room during the Zoom call and from time to time erupted in cheer and at the end of the call chanting Dominick’s name.

“Your shirt design is incredible,” head football coach James Delgado said. “I couldn’t agree more. In this family no one fights alone. In our program and around our school we always say ‘tight like a what . . . family’ (erupted the football team). When I look at your shirt that’s what I think about. You are now a part of this family. I want you to know that you and everyone else at Golisano, we are with you and fighting with you.”

He told Dominick and his mom that they are looking forward to maybe stopping by the parking lot one of these days and waving a whole lot closer than Zoom allows.

“Hopefully we can bring some awareness to childhood cancer. Keep fighting, buddy,” Delgado said.

Riverdale High School sent a duffle bag full of items for Dominick, which included a pair of sunglasses, a football signed by the team and a Raider’s jersey with the number 8, his favorite number.

Frith said it was amazing to watch the Zoom meeting because the students were so supportive and so engaged in helping this child. She said it also lifted Dominick’s mood and spirits, leaving him wanting to watch the football game.

“That’s raw human emotion to step up and help a kid they do not know,” Frith said. “This is what it’s about.”

The other kids in the oncology unit were also excited that Riverdale High School helped their cancer floor.

“Life is stressful. To see something like this has boosted everyone’s morale. It reminds us that there is good out there and people care. A grassroots effort (selling T-shirts) have ripple effects and waves of impact,” Frith said.

She said from the $25-a-time donation that the community chips in, Barbara’s Friends takes that money and multiples the power of kindness. Barbara’s Friends has helped 10,000 kids in 26 years. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic 100 children have been diagnosed with cancer.

“If we didn’t have this resource at Golisano all these families would be traveling two to three days a week. This is a vital service. We have to have it in our community,” Frith said.

Clips for Cancer was also kicked off to help raise money for children diagnosed with cancer at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Local community leaders throughout the month of September will allow pediatric cancer survivors to shave their heads for awareness of cancer treatments. For more information, visit www.barbafriends.org.