KULPMONT - A 12-hour dance marathon and a flag football tournament that will feature former Mount Carmel Area football players are intended to invigorate fundraising efforts for Geisinger's ThinkBIG Pediatric Cancer Fund, which helps families battling cancer who suffer through unforeseen expenses.

The inaugural tournament will start at noon Sunday, Aug. 10, at the Silver Bowl and is being organized by Mount Carmel alumni Cassandra Niglio, Rachel Niglio, Samantha Spieller and Cassie Mace.

Through various fundraisers, the group last year raised $11,840.78 for the Four Diamonds Fund, which provides financial, medical and pediatric cancer research support.

Tournament

Registration deadline for the tournament is July 21. There will be a $20 participation fee, which includes a T-shirt that is required to be worn the day of the games.

Former and current MCA football coaches will hold a draft the week following the deadline. Coaches involved, so far, include Whitey Williams, Robert Veach and current coach Carm DeFrancesco.

"We figured that, with this town, and with all the football players, we are bound to get a good turnout," Mace said.

"We thought it would be a good idea," Cassandra Niglio added.

Other events

Additional fundraisers are a $3 donation night from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. the evening of July 19 at the Jan Sobieski Club in Kulpmont. The committee will be selling tickets for a cheer basket raffle and 50/50. A DJ will provide music and Jello shots will be sold.

"We were invited with open arms," Rachel Niglio said. "Bruno (Varano, manager of the club) said he would have contacted us if we wouldn't have contacted him."

The committee will also have a stand at the Picnic in the Park at Mount Carmel town park in late July. A variety of desserts will be offered.

Recent fundraisers were a Spring Fling, Bowl For A Cure, a benefit night at Brewser's SportsGrille and a collection during the Great Kulpmont Car Cruise.

Dance marathon

Proceeds from all events will be announced at MCA's ThinkBIG Dance Marathon, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Mount Carmel Junior-Senior High School gym. Registration is $20 for students, which includes a T-shirt and a meal voucher. Adults are welcomed to join the fun with a $5 donation.

Events will include a luminaria service and a guest speaker who has been personally affected by cancer. Times of some events will be changed from last year in order to make things run smoother, the group said.

Personal meaning

The biggest difference from last year's marathon is who will benefit. This year's proceeds go to the Janet Weis Children's Hospital via the ThinkBIG Pediatric Cancer Fund.

One of the main reasons the group decided to switch to ThinkBIG is because Janet Weis Children's Hospital has personal meaning to them. In December 2006, 11-year-old Nate McFadden, a brother of Bryan McFadden, a classmate of the girls, died after a battle with cancer.

"He was treated at Janet Weis," Mace said. "We wanted to keep the money local. It's nice to see where the money is going."

Other factors affecting the switch were that ThinkBIG provided insurance for the marathon and smooth communication.

Last year's marathon raised $6,000. The group hopes to raise at least that much this year.

"I think a lot of people doubted that a group of 20 and 21 year olds could do this," Mace said. "Once they saw what we did, a lot of people were in shock."

For more information, contact Cassandra Niglio at 570-205-8526 or at mcathinkbig@gmail.com.