Chartiers Valley lacrosse comes together to support freshman’s mom’s cancer fight

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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | 11:01 AM


On May 6, the Chartiers Valley lacrosse community came together in support of one of their own.

The boys and girls doubleheader was transformed into a pinkout to raise money for freshman Jack Varnish’s family as his mother, Julie, continues to battle cancer.

The idea came to life midway through the lacrosse season as boys coach Dom Tolomeo was in talks with the team’s boosters, girls coach Melissa Moran and the athletic department to dedicate the night to the Varnish family and Julie as she was preparing to finish up treatments for breast cancer.

Just over a week before the game was set to take place, however, the Varnish family learned that an MRI showed seven lesions on Julie’s brain as the cancer metastasized and spread. To help support Julie’s battle, fundraising efforts ramped up as the community came together.

“It’s a close-knit family group at Chartiers Valley,” Tolomeo said. “We were all in talks about wanting to do something for them. We decided to do one big group thing. It’s one big family, and we wanted to make sure that showed and it’s bigger than lacrosse.”

As the boys and girls lacrosse teams hosted Latrobe and Peters Township, respectively, proceeds from the 50-50 raffle, pinkout bracelets, T-shirts, concessions and admission sales were donated to the family.

More than $2,000 was raised from the pinkout event, Chartiers Valley assistant athletic director Shalyn Muraco said.

“It was just something that you felt the overwhelming support, and it changed the demeanor around the team,” Tolomeo said. “It emphasized that it’s bigger than sports and that there was something going on in one of our young men’s life and we were there for him.’

Moran added: “It was really special. I have always known CV has been really good about this kind of stuff. I’ve seen the community come together for other circumstances and for it to be in the lacrosse world, it was nice to see all hands on deck.”

Both Tolomeo and Moran have been there for the Varnish family throughout the journey.

Tolomeo has spent time sharing his own personal experiences with Jack. Tolomeo’s mother fought a similar battle with breast cancer that wound up spreading.

“I let him know that it’s not easy on the inside and knowing what’s going on day to day and trying to deal with that yourself,” he said. “Jack’s a smart, young man, and he’s carried himself the right way. I saw a lot of his concerns directed around his sibling and just making sure they are OK, and it speaks volumes to the character Jack is.”

For Moran, she first met the Varnish family when she coached their daughter, Addie, when she played a season with the youth lacrosse program. Addie, a junior, now plays for the Colts volleyball program.

Moran has closely monitored the situation with Addie and Jack’s mother and knows that the family has been grateful for all of the support.

“I know that the Varnish family was very appreciative of the boys boosters and our team coming together to continue to raise funds,” Moran said. “A lot of people were overwhelmed with how quickly the shirts were made and pulled off. Everybody in the community has been great. They know that everyone is there to support them and they can always lean on us.”

To go along with the efforts from the lacrosse programs, people from all over have swarmed the family’s GoFundMe fundraiser that surpassed its goal of $50,000 in just over two weeks.

The funds raised will go toward Julie’s treatments, as she has since traveled to Boston to take part in a trial that will include further chemo procedures.

A message from the GoFundMe page reads: “Julie is asking everyone to pray for her; she wants nothing more than to grow old and she needs all the positivity and help she can get!! We know that Julie is the FIRST person to lend a helping hand when someone is in need, so let’s all do what we can and ease the financial burden she is facing so she can focus on beating this and getting into remission!”

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