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Way to Go!: Vaughn Messina, of Wantagh

Vaughn Messina with Principal Anthony Ciuffo.

Vaughn Messina with Principal Anthony Ciuffo. Credit: Wantagh School District

A Wantagh student recently spearheaded a fundraiser to benefit two classmates battling cancer after previously losing his grandfather to the disease.

Vaughn Messina, a fourth-grader at Forest Lake Elementary School, raised more than $1,000 this winter by trying to sell old toys and collecting donations for the cause.

Vaughn, who lost his grandfather, Ralph, to pancreatic cancer in 2002, was motivated to help after learning children could also be diagnosed with the disease. He was also saddened to learn how painful cancer can be, his mother Karen said.

“Helping people is a nice thing to do when someone is going through something hard, like having cancer,” Vaughn, 9, said. “I was bored with these toys and thought I could sell them and donate money.”

To raise funds, Vaughn initially intended to sell a collection of about 40 Nerf guns, but friends and family started to make donations once his mother tried to find buyers on Facebook, she said. After a two-month collection, she and Vaughn personally delivered the money to the cancer-stricken families.

“We’re very proud of Vaughn,” Forest Lake Principal Anthony Ciuffo said. “This is a fine example of the kindness that students at Forest Lake Elementary School show to one another, and Vaughn’s support of these classmates is wonderful to see.”

Vaughn also plays trombone as well as soccer, lacrosse and basketball.

— MICHAEL R. EBERT

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