A high school wrestling match will celebrate the life of Marisa Tufaro and raise money for the foundation bearing her name.
Proceeds from tonight’s dual meet between host South Plainfield and Old Bridge will benefit The Marisa Tufaro Foundation, whose mission is to help children in need throughout the greater Middlesex County area.
The event commences at 6:45 p.m. with a pre-match ceremony at the Anthony J. Cotoia Gymnasium.
The perennial state power Tigers, who have a history of helping others in the community, will donate the entire gate and money from a 50-50 raffle to the foundation.
Members of the South Plainfield and Old Bridge wrestling communities have purchased specially designed T-shirts in their respective school colors to heighten awareness about the foundation with all proceeds benefiting the tax-exempt nonprofit.
“The GMC wrestling community goes to the mat for an angel” is inscribed on the back of the shirt in capital letters under the image of two wrestlers flanked by angel wings and positioned beneath a halo. The front of the shirt bears a circular logo on the left breast uniting the foundation with the conference.
State Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., a South Plainfield graduate and member of the high school’s Hall of Fame who also serves on The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s board of trustees, will attend the Jan. 31 dual meet.
An individual Most Valuable Wrestler trophy, courtesy of Ron Mazzola and Prestige Imaging, will be awarded to the top performer from each team at the conclusion of the dual meet. The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s leadership will also make a special presentation to the head coaches of both high school wrestling programs.
Frank Noppenberger, executive director of the Greater Middlesex Conference, who is also a member of The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s board of trustees, said the South Plainfield wrestling program has long been a winner on and off the mat.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Noppenberger said upon learning the Tigers turned their Jan. 31 dual meet into a charity event. “South Plainfield has always been a caring community. That’s why they and their wrestling program are well-respected throughout the state and the country.”
Over the last decade, the South Plainfield wrestling program has helped other causes. The Tigers hosted a fundraising dual meet against Bergen Catholic for prostate cancer awareness and took part in another fundraising dual meet at Rutgers University against Monroe to assist former Rutgers Prep wrestler Brett Epps in his battle with a life-threatening illness. Additionally, South Plainfield paid tribute to former teammate Sarmad Rizvi, wearing specially designed armbands and T-shirts in honor of the grappler, who passed away four years ago.
The two-time defending state champion Tigers are among New Jersey’s most successful programs. Their resume includes a state-record 33 consecutive district championships, 28 Red Division titles, 24 conference tournament crowns, 14 sectional titles and 10 state championships. South Plainfield has been ranked nationally six times – peaking at No. 13 in the country during the 2012-13 campaign – and is currently ranked among the Top 20 programs in the state for the 22nd consecutive year. Eleven South Plainfield wrestlers have claimed state titles, 22 have won more than 100 matches and more than two dozen graduates went on to compete in college.
Volunteers from The Marisa Tufaro Foundation, including Cyndi and Greg Tufaro, will be in attendance to distribute “thank you” letters and free foundation wristbands to spectators.