In the winter, when lacrosse captain Ross DiBetta hangs up his gear, he’s leading the cheering section for the basketball team, riding a hobbyhorse mustang — the school’s mascot — its pole a lacrosse stick he made in woodshop.
What started as a group of a dozen of his friends who wanted to rev up the crowds at the junior-varsity games has grown into a boisterous group of more than 60 strong at all school sporting events. Dressed in white, sometimes black, or red, white and blue, they make up “the stable.”
“We take it pretty seriously,” said DiBetta, 18, of Mount Sinai.
That’s not a surprise to his school’s principal.
“Everything he does, he does 100 percent,” said Robert Grable. “Ross DiBetta is what we want Mt. Sinai kids to be about. He’s academically successful, he’s socially successful, he definitely understands who is he is and what he stands for.”
DiBetta has taken rigorous Advancement Placement courses and will graduate in the top 8 percent of his class. He has been a four-year starter on the lacrosse team, which won the Suffolk County championship in his junior year.
The entire community celebrated the win — a sweet feat for a group of childhood friends.
“We had great chemistry coming in,” DiBetta said. “Our team had been close since early elementary school; we knew that coming into that season.”
Another memorable experience for DiBetta took place on another continent, thousands of miles from Long Island. He went to Ecuador with a group of doctors who were performing oral surgeries. DiBetta translated Spanish for them, helped the patients fill out paperwork and opened boxes of gloves in the operating room.
Back on Long Island, he has organized several charity fundraisers. For one effort, he collected eyeglasses to send to Ecuador on the trip.
DiBetta’s biggest achievement was raising $10,000 for a young boy with Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor-Associated Periodic Syndrome, or TRAPS, a rare disorder that causes fevers. He found 100 donors to contribute a total of $5,000 on a GoFundMe page and persuaded Mount Sinai’s student government to contribute $1,500 to the cause. A dance generated $3,500. The money paid for the boy to take a trip to Legoland in Carlsbad, California.
“I guess I got a little bit of salesmanship experience,” DiBetta said. “I had to go to my student government and ask them for money, and kind of put on a pitch.”
DiBetta will attend Penn State University in the fall and hopes to major in business or finance. He said he is most looking forward “to striving academically. I would like to continue giving to the community, transfer some of my success in the future and give back to others.” He has already been accepted to the Sapphire Leadership Academic Program, part of the college’s business school, and is thinking about being a leader of THON, the popular 46-hour dance marathon that serves as a fundraiser for those fighting childhood cancer.
“This kid is just selfless,” said Gable, his principal. “It’s all about other people and their needs.”
WHAT MAKES YOU EXTRAORDINARY: My “ability to problem-solve and help others when they need help.”