Thomas Carro has watched his 13-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, battle anorexia for the past year.
Spending days in hospitals across the country with his daughter as she was treated for dehydration with IVs and heart monitors attached to her, Carro is now on a mission to make people aware of the realities of eating disorders.
So Carro, who is the owner of Just 4 Girls Lacrosse, decided to team up with Project Heal, a Long Island-based organization that helps kids with eating disorders. They decided to host a lacrosse tournament to raise money for the group and raise awareness about eating disorders.
“I wish I could talk to so many people and tell them about the struggle and how dangerous it is,” said Gabrielle, of Coram.
On Sunday, 17 girls lacrosse teams from across Suffolk County competed in a round-robin style tournament at Dowling College in Shirley. Money was raised through an enrollment fee of $950 per team, as well as T-shirt sales and donations during the tournament.
“This is definitely going to be made annual,” Carro said. “We got a very good response from parents and had a great turnout. We want to keep this going next year.”
Carol Rose, owner of Yellow Jackets Lacrosse, had 10 of her program’s teams competing in the event.
“It’s just a great cause,” Rose said. “Gabby is a part of the Yellow Jackets and has played on my team before. It is a great chance to give back, and events like these allow these kids to take part in the effort.”
Starting at 8:30 a.m., the teams competed in a round-robin style tournament with each match lasting 25 minutes. The tourney continued throughout the day with the consolation, playoff and championship rounds.
This year’s winners were the Yellow Jackets Kiwi team for the seventh- and eighth-grade division and the Middle Country 19 team for fifth- and sixth-grade division.
“The most important thing is exposing this disease,” said Al Bertolone, friend of Carro and co-founder of the event. “This is a deadly disease.”
The American Journal of Psychiatry reported in 2009 that there was a mortality rate between 4 and 6 percent for those battling anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders.
“People don’t see the encompassing effects of eating disorders,” said Liana Rosenman, co-founder of Project Heal. “It is not about the food. It is a mental disorder.”