When the Lynbrook girls’ varsity lacrosse team set out to raise money to combat cancer, the players’ parents and coaches had no idea they would become the top fundraisers in the country for their cause.
“We were shocked that we were beating large colleges and some of the best programs in the country,” coach Vinny Tetro said. “The girls really took pride that we were No. 1 and wanted to stay that way, and they kept their efforts really going.”
Having noticed that most teams in the school play a fundraiser game, the girls’ lacrosse players came up with an idea to have one of their own. They discovered an Instagram sensation known as the “Game Hair Havoc Challenge,” which encouraged athletes to style their hair on game day to raise awareness for the HEADstrong Foundation, a group that offers financial, residential and emotional support to families affected by cancer.
Each member of the lacrosse team — comprised of 26 girls — created their own donation page for the foundation and set a fundraising goal of $100 per player. They easily surpassed it, beginning their collection in early March and generating more than $7,000 ahead of their fundraising game against Hewlett on April 4.
“I just think it was great to see that the girls saw an opportunity to really help out and to give back,” said Mary Beth Stalter, whose daughter, Kayleigh, 16, is a junior on the team. “To get all the teammates involved was great. They did it as a team.”
Tetro said Stalter was instrumental in helping the players with their fundraising efforts, including creating T-shirts to keep them united.
In addition to the funds raised though the Instagram challenge, the team also hosted a Shopping Night event at La Benes in Malverne, which donated a portion of its proceeds that evening to the cause. Junior varsity players also helped by selling refreshments at the game and collecting donations as people entered.
In total, the girls raised more than $8,400 for the foundation, which was the most in the country, beating out major colleges such as Harvard University and James Madison University.
Perhaps galvanized by their success, Lynbrook went on to defeat Hewlett, 14-5, that afternoon. Stony Brook University alumnus and Team USA lacrosse player Kylie Ohlmiller also made an appearance during the game.
Tetro, who is in his 15th season coaching the team, thanked those who contributed to the cause, and said the girls would likely continue the tradition of paying a fundraising game for years to come.
“It really unified us as a team,” he said, “and we had this common goal together to fundraise and do well for a charity that we really believed in and it really helped us bond as a team and it’s translating onto the field.”
To learn more about HEADstrong or to donate to the cause, visit headstrong.org.