By Phil Stilton
JACKSON—When Angelina Roberto was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on December 10, 2012, friends and family of the two year old girl rallied together and began raising funds for parents Crystal and Ed Roberto. They started a “Go Fund Me” page and set out to raise $10,000 for the young parents. By February, through contributions from the Jackson area community, they have raised over $25,000.
After learning of the effort, Rich Gardella, who coaches the basketball team of Angelina’s older brother, Dante, decided he and his team would get involved as well. They renamed their team “Team Angelina” and set out to raise money at their team’s games, held at the Switlik Elementary School in Jackson.
At their first game, since learning of Angelina’s condition, Gardella had Team Angelina Shirts printed and the boys were given permission by the Jackson Recreational Basketball League to wear them.
“We want to raise awareness and do some fundraising for Angelina,” Gardella said. “We and some volunteers from the Ryan J. Mogila Foundation came out and we’re here to support her, her family and brother Dante, who is on our team.”
Gardella founded the Ryan J. Mogila Foundation in 2012, in honor of former Jackson Memorial High School basketball standout Ryan Mogila who passed away last March.
Angelina is also the granddaughter of Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina.
Friends and family has set up a Facebook page called “Pixie Dust for Angelina” to give updates on her condition and treatment. She has been receiving treatments at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the family reports she is making great progress after two months of treatment.
Donation cans have also been placed in restaurants and retail establishments around Jackson Township and Toms River to support young Angelina and her family.