Clark and Garwood Year in Review: The Most Inspirational Stories

As 2011 comes to an end, we're taking a look back at some of the most inspirational tales we captured throughout the year in Clark and Garwood.

Time to look back. Here, some of our favorite inspirational stories from the year. Keep reading this week for more of our "Year in Review."

May 10, 2011:

Over the past few months, the story of seven-year-old battle with cancer has traveled throughout Union County. One young man from Cranford answered the call to help. Matthew Muller, 15, a ninth grader at Cranford High School, was working on service hours for school when his mother, Barbara, told him about Condit.

Muller enlisted the help of his father, Dave, a sixth grade teacher in Belleville, to combine his desire to help with his family’s love for cooking. The pair decided that Muller would hold a fundraiser and go to work in the kitchen, turning out 400 chocolate lollipops in both dark and milk chocolate flavors. He brought his wares to school and sold the pops during his lunch period for $1 each. Matthew sold off all of the lollipops and raised $350 for Jason’s Friends during the next weeks.

May 19, 2011:

Valley Road School took fourth place in the state in the Pennies for Patients fundraiser to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

In the past four years, Valley Road School has raised more than $20,000 for the cause, this year adding $10,080.76 to their total. As a result, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is bringing the game "Dance, Dance Revolution" to the school as a thank you. Last year, out of 900 schools in New Jersey, Valley Road School’s fundraising efforts were sixth in the state.

June 13, 2011:

More than one thousand other relayers walked around the track to show their solidarity against cancer.

"The next 12 hours will take us on a life-affirming journey, symbolizing a day in the life of someone fighting cancer, a disease that never sleeps" said Cindy Kraus, a cancer survivor who hosted the opening ceremony.

The relay raised $124,000 in donations that will go to the American Cancer Society. Clark’s Relay is the biggest out of Union, Essex and Hudson counties, and it continues to grow every year.

June 14, 2011:

After watching his dad lose his fight to pancreatic cancer, Clark native Todd Cohen decided he had to do something about it. After hearing of a local affiliate forming, he started volunteering for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (pancan.org), a national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. The organization is leading the way to increase the survival rate for people diagnosed with this devastating disease through a bold initiative—The Vision of Progress: Double the Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rate by 2020.

One June 14, Todd and more than 600 people headed to Washington, D.C., for Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day. He and others also participated in a National Call-In to contact their Congressmen to ask them to support the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act (S. 362/ H.R. 733), which proposes comprehensive research initiatives and programs that would facilitate finding a cure for pancreatic cancer.

Aug. 29, 2011:

In preparation for Hurricane Irene, the Clark Recreation Center was transformed into the only American Red Cross Shelter in Union County serving families and individuals whose homes were rendered uninhabitable or hazardous as a result of the storm. Clark CERT volunteers led by Jerry Fewkes, Clark Emergency Management Coordinator and head of Clark FEMA, joined forces with American Red Cross volunteers to provide cots, blankets, water, coffee and tea and other provisions for evacuees from flooded homes and individuals whose electricity was out.

The shelter accommodated fifteen overnight hurricane victims on Saturday night into Sunday. Over the course of the day on Sunday, over 100 individuals from Clark, Rahway, Springfield, Union and other nearby communities were processed at the center. By Sunday evening, volunteers had a total of 53 individuals still in need of shelter for the night.

Shelter volunteers expressed how pleased they were to see so many different volunteer and municipal groups represented and working seamlessly together to help with hazard rescues, processing storm victims and providing comfort, food and shelter for those in need.

Sept. 9, 2011: Clark Tower One Survivor Tells Her 9/11 Story - &

September 11, 2001 started as just another day working at the Port Authority for Clark resident Maria Bordas. She had started a new position. She was making lunch plans with a friend. Though unsure of the cause, after her office on the 65th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center shook, Bordas told her employees it was time to leave.

"My family says I was born that day," Bordas says. "It just wasn't my day to die."  Now, 10 years later, Bordas takes a moment to talk to Patch about her escape and how her life has changed in the decade since the terrorist attack.

Sept. 14, 2011:

Eighth grader Colin Sass approached Carl H. Kumpf Principal Jennifer Feeley with an idea a year ago: He wanted to make a tree to raise money for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. 

So for the past year, Sass collected dimes in exchange for writing a note on a tree which was on display in Carl F. Kumpf's lobby. 

In total, Sass raised $180 to purchase one 9/11 flag for each school in the Clark district. The flag is blue – a common color for all the states which were attacked. The black in the middle symbolized sadness, Sass said. There are four stars in the middle of the flag representing each plane which crashed on the day.

Sept. 23, 2011:

Gayle Carrick, superintendent of Cranford schools, thanked the Garwood Board of Education for opening Washington School to Cranford students after flood damage hit Brookside Place School.

"A school is the greatest stability and in our time in need, we needed stability," Carrick said. "From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for opening your school to us."

"We wanted to help a neighbor, and we sympathize with them," said Garwood Board President Adele Lewis.



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