Montour and Hopewell staff and students pool resources to champion good cause

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Usually, the Hopewell Area Vikings and the Montour Spartans might expect to meet each other only in athletic competition. But Sunday, students and staff from the   rival school districts will join forces for a good cause.

Together, they are hosting a benefit for 2-year-old Charlie Rowe of Center, recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive muscle cancer called alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma that is in Stage 4. Charlie is a triplet and will turn 3 in June.

His father, Doug Rowe, is assistant principal at Hopewell High School and his mother, Natalie Rowe, is a learning support teacher at Montour.

The Spartans and Vikings Walk for Charlie will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on the Montour campus on Clever Road in Robinson. Admission is free and activities will include food and beverage stands, silent and ticket auctions, live entertainment, carnival booths, family activities, tours of local fire trucks, and a car wash. In addition, there will be a one-mile walk around the high school track at 2 p.m. 

All proceeds will go to Champions for Charlie to aide him in his recovery.

When Charlie was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of April, Rhonda Marasco, who teaches with Mrs. Rowe, said teachers and administrators from both schools stepped in to help the family by forming a committee and planning the fundraising event.

Students from both schools are contributing time by offering children’s activities such as face painting, manicures, headband making, balloon darts, and a ball toss. In addition, cast members from Hopewell High School’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” will be in costume for story time.

Community businesses also have chipped in and donated more than 150 items for the auction, including gift certificates, gift baskets, gym memberships, tickets to sporting events, golf packages, a flat screen television, jewelry, and autographed sports paraphernalia.

Ms. Marasco described the outpouring of help for the family as amazing. “It restores your hope in human goodness,” she said.

In addition to planning the fundraiser, teachers and administrators from Montour pooled sick time and donated more than 160 sick days to Mrs. Rowe so that she can spend time with Charlie during his treatment.

A collection also was taken to buy an iPad for Charlie so he can watch episodes of his favorite PBS children’s television show, “Caillou,” during chemotherapy treatments. A second iPad was donated by an anonymous administrator so Charlie's family can talk to him via FaceTime during hospital stays.

Ms. Marasco said Mrs. Rowe is so thankful for all that is being done for her family and that the effort has brought some joy in the midst of this difficult time.

“She looks forward to hearing what we have going on every day,” Ms. Marasco said. “Just to help in her heartache is worth it all.”

For more information or to donate, visit or contact Ms. Marasco at Checks should be made out to Champions for Charlie and sent to Montour High School, attn. Rhonda Marasco, 223 Clever Road, McKees Rocks, PA 15136.

Shannon Nass, freelance writer:

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