It’s been nearly one year since room mom Kathy O’Beirne died: on April 29, 2011, she lost a six-year battle with cancer.
One year later, it’s difficult for her parents, Gabriel and Carol Guerrieri, to cope with the loss. However, events like Friday’s Recess Relay makes things a little easier.
“It’s a good distraction,” Gabriel Guerrieri said. “it’s so close to a year now. She was such a great kid.”
O’Beirne also leaves behind a sister, Kristen, who is a sixth grade teacher in Haddon Heights; her husband, Patrick, a physician at and daughter Emma, now a first grader at Assumption.
“It makes (Emma) feel good to have her classmates remember,” Carol Guerreri said. “Emma remembers her all year long, but she was a room mom, so all the kids knew her. This is a time for them to remember her.”
Relay Recess is an abbreviated version of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. It raises funds for the American Cancer Society, and provides cancer prevention and educational information.
As of Friday morning, the school raised $13,000 through donations, $11,000 more than school officials expected to raise.
“We’re overwhelmed by the generosity, love and support of the community,” said Assumption Regional School kindergarten teacher Lisa Colangelo, who organized the event.
Colangelo was moved by what she called O’Beirne’s generosity, spirit and love of life. When O’Beirne died, Colangelo was moved to attend a Relay for Life event.
“I thought it would be a beautiful way to honor her,” Colangelo said. “They don’t have Relay for Life at the elementary school level, but they have Relay Recess.”
It’s the first Relay Recess at Assumption, and one of the first in the country, according to Colangelo. She organized members of the school, church and community, and in less than a month, had everything ready to go.
“When they first came to us, I didn’t think it could happen in a month,” Gabriel Guerrieri said. “But when I got here (on Friday) I was blown away. It’s very impressive.”
The school had nine events set up for the kids to participate in, in addition to taking laps around the school’s parking lot. The event was also open to the community through 8 p.m. Friday night.
“They also made almost $3,000 online,” Gabriel Guerrieri said. “It’s a nice outpouring.”
Family members banded together to form Kathy’s Krewe, a group of 25-30 people who walked in memory of Kathy O’Bierne.
Members of the community who have battled and survived cancer were honored. Miss Atlantic County Lindsay Petrosh sang to help kick things off. She then went for a walk around the parking lot with one of the classes.
and the provided some refreshments, and Yogo Factory hosted the after party and donated 20 percent of its sales for the entire day to the American Cancer Society.
“It’s nice for her to be remembered here at the school,” Carol Guerrieri said. “It means a lot to the family.”