This blog has been created to inform readers about The Marisa Tufaro Foundation, a nonprofit corporation with 501(c)(3) status pending whose official website will launch on July 30, which would have been Marisa’s 14th birthday.

Marisa was born with a complex cardiac defect that required six open-heart surgeries. Despite keeping hundreds of doctor’s appointments and being hospitalized for more than two years, Marisa lived a vibrant life that inspired. You can read her story here.

A heart transplant, which was supposed to extend Marisa’s life, tragically cut it short after a post-operative complication developed into a rare form of Stage IV cancer. After radiation and chemotherapy treatments failed to thwart the relentless onslaught of an aggressive disease that riddled her brain and body, Marisa succumbed to her illness in January following a valiant battle. She was just 13 years old. Marisa would have graduated in June from Herbert Hoover Middle School and attended Edison High School in the fall.

The foundation, which will assist children in need throughout the greater Middlesex County area, is a fitting way to honor Marisa and keep alive her spirit. It allows her parents, Greg and Cyndi, to give back to the residents of a community that has forever provided overwhelming love and support.

The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s Board of Trustees includes state Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., who represents Middlesex County; retired East Brunswick High School athletics director Frank Noppenberger, who currently serves as the Greater Middlesex Conference’s executive director; James Monroe Elementary School Principal Lynda Zapoticzny, whose faculty and staff played a paramount role in Marisa’s development as a caring person and honor-roll student; and Dr. Joseph Gaffney, chief of pediatric cardiology at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, who was Marisa’s doctor her entire life.

In the ensuing weeks, the board will be:

  • Unveiling an official logo for the foundation.
  • Making public the foundation’s strategic plan and vision.
  • Seeking volunteers and establishing committees to assist the foundation.
  • Networking with social workers, school districts, community leaders and others to identify children in need throughout the greater Middlesex County area.
  • Developing award criteria for those eligible for foundation support.
  • Working on fundraising projects and creating a mechanism for online donations.
  • Exploring partnership opportunities with other organizations to maximize impact.
  • Sending press releases to media representatives that humbly promote the foundation and its community involvement.

We look forward to being able to share with you the many ways Marisa’s foundation will help others.

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