Fund-raiser on Saturday for Matawan Student Battling Cancer
Led by a group of students, the Matawan community has rallied to support a student battling cancer and has organized a charity walk on Saturday to raise more money for the cause.
Junior Joseph Ahmed is currently battling Stage IV Ewing's sarcoma, a rare and aggressive bone cancer, and needs $70,000 to pay for an experimental treatment in Germany that is not covered by insurance, according to one of the event organizers, recently graduated Matawan senior Tim Makalinao. In two weeks, students and the community have already raised $42,000.
On Saturday, "Steps for Joe's Cure," a charity walk that will start at the football field at Matawan High School, will begin at 10 a.m., with registration beginning at 8 a.m. The entry fee is $25 and it will go toward Ahmed's treatment. Those unable to attend can still donate to the cause online at Ahmed's GoFundMe page.
"The whole town has helped,'' Makalinao said. "We did a donation drive in school that raised $3,000, we did a Twitter drive where we had hundreds of kids tweeting to celebrities about Joe, and that raised $15,000, and we also raised $4,000 while bagging at Stop & Shop. Joe came out and bagged himself for 15 minutes and raised $300."
Makalinao, who is going to Harvard University in the fall, teamed with Matawan sophomore Adam Elliott to spearhead the fund-raising effort. They did not know Ahmed particularly well when he was diagnosed in 2013 but have since gotten close with him.
"We talk to him all the time,'' Makalinao said. "He's so grateful, and he's tried to personally talk to every person who has helped out. It's just amazing, the school outreach that has gone on."
Makalinao and Elliott had connections to the mayors of Matawan and Aberdeen, who agreed to close down Main Street in Matawan for 12 hours in order to accommodate Saturday's walk. Stages, tents, food, water and 900 T-shirts have all been donated by the community, according to Makalinao. Also, Colts Neck resident Jacquie Lee, the runner-up on the NBC talent show "The Voice" in 2013, will perform with her band.