Instead of playing in the virtual universe of Roblox in his free time, East Rockaway 10-year-old Joseph Petraro seeks out ways to help those who are less fortunate.
Recently, Petraro has been helping out Jane Marczewski’s charity, the Nightbirde Foundation, after her death from cancer last year. In support of Marczewski, also known as Nightbirde, and another friend who also died of cancer last year, Petraro shaved his head on March 25.
But Petraro’s selflessness doesn’t stop there. He recently published a book about Nightbirde, with all the proceeds going to the Foundation.
“He promised Jane that he was going to write a book about her,” Annie Petraro, Joseph’s mom, said. “When she was sick, Joseph raised money and sent it to her for her treatments.”
When Nightbirde died, her family started the foundation, to which Joseph donated thousands of dollars.
“Every two weeks he gives sometimes $400, sometimes $250,” Annie said. “It’s like clockwork. Every two weeks when he gets paid for his books, merchandise, and the fundraisers he does, he gives it to the Nightbirde Foundation.” Annie says it’s hard to keep up with all the philanthropic work his son does.
“He’s the New York State Be Strong representative,” Annie said. “And through that, he was able to become more confident to do more of this stuff.”
The Be Strong organization helped Joseph become more confident that he is now organizing his own fundraisers.
“Right now, he is planning this big fundraiser called ‘Hoops for Inclusion’,” Annie said. “Because Be Strong is all about including all.” Joseph is planning a basketball-shooting contest where he will be making the event accessible to those in wheelchairs.
Joseph plays travel basketball and will be renting the gym that he plays in with the money he has raised for this fundraiser. “So he does a whole bunch of stuff, but his main thing is donating,” Annie said. “For instance, a girl passed away and was