By Cheryl Conway
Two months after losing a long-time dedicated volunteer, the Hanover Twp. community continues to pull together to help this family by honoring them and providing financial support for two children to carry on in their lives.
At the Hanover Twp. Parks and Recreation first Annual Charity Classic Softball Game held on Thursday, Sept. 20, a concession stand at Black Brook Park in Whippany was dedicated to Dave and Mary DelloRusso. Before Wegmans and Bayer employees took the field to play against each other as a benefit for the Interfaith Food Pantry, a dedication was held at 6 p.m. to recognize the DelloRusso’s commitment and involvement with the Hanover Twp. Little League program.
Attended by Hanover Twp. Committeemembers, mayor and family members, including their two Children Bella and Carman, the Hanover Twp. Little League sponsored the concession stand dedication and placed a plaque there honoring Dave and Mary DelloRusso.
A sign was placed over the concession stand that says “dedicated to Mary and Dave DelloRusso,” explains Denise Brennan, superintendent for Hanover Park Administration and Recreation Dept.
Michael Halibej, president of the Hanover Twp. Little League, spoke at the dedication and presented the plaque.
He said Mary DelloRusso served on the Little League Board and was the coordinator of the snack bar at Black Brook Park for four years. Halibej’s wife, Oksana, ran the snack bar before DelloRusso stepped in when her son Carman became active with the HTLL.
Her husband, Dave DelloRusso “was a dedicated coach and manager for years” for HTLL. “He managed teams selflessly,” he says. “He was an individual not interested in just the interest of his own son. He was dedicated too all boys who were part of the team to learn how to play, improve, enjoy the game of baseball. David was all about team.”
Mary DelloRusso was just as dedicated in running the snack bar, from scheduling slots for volunteers to work, to ordering the food and drinks.
“She took such an interest in scheduling,” says Halibej. “She was always running getting supplies,” everything from hot dogs, rolls, sunflower seeds, hamburgers, candy, ketchup, mustard, relish, napkins, plates, water, Gatorade. “She was someone who was dedicated and she took it on as a serious project.”
Located up on a hill, “even when Carman was playing, she’d be at the snack stand; she’d be at the outfield fence and watching Carman and David as coaching manager,” he says.
“The concession stand at Black Brook Park sits between our Little League 46/60 field and juniors 60/90 field,” describes Halibej, who has been involved with the HTLL for the past 20 years. The snack bar has been there for at least that long, he says.
Now it stands with a sign, 12 ft. wide and two feet high, he says.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” says Halibej, “has their name on it.” Before it was just a snack bar; now its called “The Mary and David DelloRusso Snack Bar.”
While others have operated the snack stand, Halibej explains the honor: “We appreciated her dedication; as a board we never had to worry about anything at the snack bar, never had to worry about scheduling with families and the economy.” Running a snack bar and getting volunteers, “it’s a challenge.”
No couple is more deserving of this dedication, he says.
“It’s magnificent, not two people more worthy of it and the family is just so tremendous, wonderful people,” he says.
Having known the DelloRusso family for 15 years, Halibej says “I was so honored because Bella and Carman were both there” when he led the dedication ceremony to memorialize them.
Since the passing of David and Mary DelloRusso, the community has come together to support Carman and Bella DelloRusso.
A gofundme page was started on Aug. 19, two days after Mary DelloRusso died from a terminal illness. Since then $92,333 of $100,000 goal has been raised.
Information on the gofundme page provides details about the DelloRussos.
“In 2007 Mary found herself face to face with a stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis,” it states on the gofundme page. “By 2008 after having a double mastectomy and 17 lymph nodes removed from her body, she would find out that in addition to her original stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis, 11 of her lymph nodes were also diseased. With two small children, Carman and Bella, at home Mary was determined to fight this battle. And with her husband of 15 years, David DelloRusso, by her side she received the support that would help her fight.
Then on December 18, 2009, after months of battling with chemo and radiation, Mary’s husband David DelloRusso suddenly passed away due to heart failure. Now Mary found herself facing her battle, grieving from the loss of the love of her life, and supporting her kids ages 5 and 12, through the devastation of losing their father. Amazingly, Mary pulled through. She did all she could to be the best mother she could be.
“After being in remission for five years Mary was hit with the horrible news that her cancer was back and this time it was stage 4 metastatic malignant neoplasm. Despite the terrible news, she was determined to fight for her family. As hard as she fought, Mary’s battle with cancer ended on Friday, August 17, 2018. Her biggest worry centered on how her children would be able to cope with financial struggles after her passing.”
To help support Carman and Bella, now in high school and college, donations are being accepted at https://www.gofundme.com/carman-and-bella039s-trust-fund.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, The Hanover Twp. Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association Local 109 (FMBA Local 109) plans to host its annual beefsteak dinner fundraiser and small tricky tray with 100 percent of the proceeds going to a selected charity.
This year, the DelloRusso family has been chosen as the recipient from the fundraiser, according to Paul Perrello, president of FMBA Local 109.
The event is set for 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion 1323 Legion Place in Whippany, featuring a beefsteak dinner and hypnotist, mini tricky tray with prizes donated from businesses.
In past years, the beefsteak fundraising dinner has supported other causes and projects such as the Mountainview Road School playground; a child who was struck by a vehicle; Employment Horizons; new uniforms for the high school; renovations at the junior high school theater; mission trips.
Having raised about $3,000 each year, FMBA Local 109 has probably donated more than $20,000 over the past 13 years since the fundraiser began with funds supporting various local causes, says Perrello.
“We always try to keep it local to a resident in our community,” says Perrello. “We all work in the community and live in the community. It’s in our nature, we help people. That’s why we do it.”
Cost to attend this year’s dinner is $45 per ticket. Contact Ian Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 973-703- 1206.
“We should support those in the community any opportunity that we can get,” says Perrello, adding that he and the other members of FMBA Local 109 plan to attend the cut-a-thon day after their beefsteak dinner. “My head is bald, he laughs, “so I don’t need a haircut,” but he plans to make a donation, he says.
On Sunday, Nov. 18, from noon to 5 p.m., Hanover Twp. Little League is sponsoring a Hairy For Mary cut-a-thon. Hair shaving, braiding, trimming, face painting will be provided to raise money for “our dear friend and community volunteer Mary DelloRusso who lost her long battle to cancer. We are now standing together to raise funds for her as she did for so many of us.”
Any questions, email email@example.com or call 201-415-8557.
All donations and funds raised go directly to The David DelloRusso Family Trust
Hanover Twp. Rec. Center, 15 N. Jefferson Road, Whippany, N.J. 07981.
Join in for music, 50/50, basket auction and bake sale. Cost is a minimum $10 donation.
The fire department, police and Benovolent Association will step forward to help run the event and may even get their haircuts.
“It’s so heartwarming to see the community come together; it’s fantastic,” says Halibej.