He couldn’t be there Monday night when young Bode Kloos led Weston’s boys lacrosse team out for a game against Brookfield, but Jack Morvillo got to watch online as the Trojans took the next step in a chain that Morvillo brought with him to Weston from Long Island.
“Bode’s smile said it all,” Morvillo said, his own practically visible over the phone.
He and several friends came together in eighth grade to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money to support childhood cancer patients and research pediatric cancer.
“It’s taken off, for sure,” Morvillo said. “We’ve raised over $180,000 for childhood cancer research.”
Morvillo now attends Hotchkiss, but his former teammates have kept it up. They invited Bode to join them Monday and raise some more money.
“We’re always a little apprehensive; he’s not 100 percent with the chemo, post-surgery,” Bryan Kloos, Bode’s father, said. “He led the team out on the field. It was a good turnout.”
Bode was diagnosed with cancer in summer 2019, his dad said. Chemotherapy and radiation ran through spring 2020. In November, a periodic scan showed that the tumor was growing again. He underwent head-and-neck surgery.
“It was originally considered inoperable,” Bryan Kloos said. “(Surgery) is pretty significant. They don’t offer it to everyone. Without it, his chance of survival would’ve been negligible.”
Treatment continues, but “one day at a time, that’s how we’re living our life these days. I’ll take the good days.”
St. Baldrick’s is known for head-shaving events: volunteer for the shave, get donations.
“Before I lived in Connecticut, on Long Island, I’d been shaving my head starting in fourth grade,” said Morvillo, who said he’d lost a young friend to cancer in Rockville Center.
When the family moved, he convinced several of his Weston friends to shave at an event in Westport. They raised around $13,000, he said.
“The second year, we decided to make our own branch in Weston,” Jacob Strouch said. “The event gets better and better every year.”
This year’s seniors, Strouch said, already shaved: “With prom coming up,” he said, “we didn’t want to be bald.” But the younger players, “the Next Generation of Weston St. Baldrick’s,” he said, are planning a May 22 event.
In the past, they’ve run three-on-three basketball tournaments, played floor hockey. “We usually do food, drinks, music.”
Parents have helped plenty, Morvillo said, but the students arranged a lot of the events.
“It’s part of the reason I love coaching,” coach Josh Thornton said. “These kids are all awesome kids. They do a lot for others, and they’ve been doing it for so long. To come back and help out in the community, it’s gratifying. The amount they’ve raised over the years is astounding.”
Bryan Kloos said the family has been gratified at the community’s response, and he said Bode enjoyed Monday night.
“I think it’s really powerful,” Kloos said. “I can talk about the lack of funding for pediatric cancers, the disparities of treatment options for pediatric cancers relative to adult cancers, until I’m blue in the face.” He hoped the athletes will remain involved even as they head out to college, and that Weston students will pick up the torch.
That seems to be the plan, Strouch said. They’re already working on this year’s event. Morvillo said Weston’s St. Baldrick’s club has almost 100 members throughout the school. His siblings have been involved, and his younger brother is in the lacrosse program there. He mentioned friends on the baseball and track teams who’ll be holding their own events for Bode.
“It’s part of their nature to be selfless,” Thornton said.
“It leaves a nice legacy. Their impact will continue after this group.”