Volleyball tournament benefits young adults injured in car crash – NorthJersey.com


A Fundraising Volleyball Tournament is heald at Midland Park High School in Midland Park on Saturday February 9, 2019. The event is to raise money for the families of two young people seriously injured in an auto accident in December.  (Photo: Anne-Marie Caruso/NorthJersey.com)

MIDLAND PARK — Teams of students, teachers, parents and alumni filled the borough high school gymnasium Saturday night for a volleyball tournament fundraiser in support of a young couple who were seriously injured in a December car accident.

The event, held to help offset the medical costs of Ryan Moore and Jenna Passero, who were hurt in the car crash near The College of New Jersey in Ewing, was made even more meaningful by its timing.

A fundraising Volleyball Tournament is held at Midland Park High School in Midland Park on Saturday February 9, 2019. The event is to raise money for the families of two young people seriously injured in an auto accident in December. Ryan Moore, who was injured in the accident, is greeted as he arrives at the gym.  (Photo: Anne-Marie Caruso/NorthJersey.com)

Earlier that day, Moore, 21, finally came home after spending five weeks in the hospital and another five weeks recovering in a rehabilitation center.

“It means the world to me to see all these people come out. It’s great to see everyone,” said Moore, who grew up in Midland Park and graduated from the high school in 2016. “This is a tight-knit community. It makes getting through a tough time that much easier.” 

In December, Passero, 21, of Midland Park, was visiting her boyfriend Moore at the college, where he is a senior, when an allegedly impaired driver crashed into the car they were riding in.

Moore’s fraternity brother Michael Sot, who was driving, died of his injuries. 

Passero, a Kutztown University senior, suffered a laceration on her liver, three broken ribs, a bruised lung, a sprained ankle and a concussion.

Moore broke his neck, jaw, pelvis and several ribs in the crash, said Moore’s father, Eric Moore.

When Moore arrived home on Saturday after 10 weeks of multiple surgeries and physical therapy, neighbors were lining the street to welcome him back.

“He’s really very determined and grateful that he’s still here and getting all the help he needs to get better,” Eric Moore said. “This town has really pulled together from all angles in support and I think they both realize how lucky they are.”

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The school has a tradition of banding together to raise money when someone in the community needs help, said Maureen Fister Donatien, a physical education teacher at the high school who helped organize the event. 

“The Moore and Passero families have been a big part of our community,” she said. “They’ve always supported these fundraisers in the past. Now it’s our turn to give back to them.”

Donations were taken at the door and students also asked local businesses to donate. 

A GoFundMe page set up to benefit both families has raised more than $35,000. Another page set up for Moore has raised more than $16,000.

The borough of just over 7,000 people tends to rally together in times of need, said Jillian Hosier, president of the Class of 2019.

“We’re so small. We all know each other,” she said. “Whenever something like this happens it kind of shakes the whole town and we all want to help.”

Eric Moore and John Passero, Jenna’s father, wore the light blue uniforms of the Racqueteers, one of 20 teams in the tournament. 

“I’m so proud of this town and this school system,” Passero said. “They’re always here for everybody.”

Jenna, who was not at the event Saturday, is continuing to recover, he said. “She’s turned the corner. She still has some ways to go, but she’s getting better.”

Moore, who was on the high school football team, and Passero, a soccer player, were dedicated students and served as role models during their time at the high school, said Nick Capuano, the school principal.

“It was just such a shock,” Capuano said of the accident. “There’s so much energy and love and support here tonight. This is what this community is all about.”

Email: burrow@northjersey.com

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