NHS students plan ‘lock-in’ to raise money for classmate

Students at Naugatuck High School will host a walk-a-thon this weekend to raise money to help a classmate injured in a car accident in August. -STEVE BINGHAM/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — Students and staff at Naugatuck High School can be part of a “lock-in” this weekend to benefit a student seriously injured in a car accident in August.

The all-night fundraiser will be at the high school Saturday night to benefit sophomore Avery Moore. The “All Night for Avery” walk-a-thon will take place on the football field from 7 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday. Organizers says it’s a chance to raise money for Avery’s cause and have fun at the same time. Just as important, they say, is that the event gives the student body a chance to show solidarity with one of their own.

Avery suffered paralysis from the neck down in an Aug. 1 car accident in Long Island, N.Y.

“We want people to come for the love and the support and the energy,” said junior Alysha Cacase, who co-organized this weekend’s event. “The money is, of course, the goal, but in the end, we want to show support to Avery and his family. We want to make that connection; the support that the community is here for you and you are not alone.”

Amazingly, Avery has made significant progress in rehab and the community as a whole has been pulling for him.

“He’s making huge progress. It’s so inspiring how far he’s come in such a short time,” Cacase said.

This weekend’s event is open to all high school students and staff members district wide. There is a $10 entrance fee for students and $15 for adults. Once students arrive, they will be “locked in” until the following morning unless they have a note from a parent.

Avery is one of a set of triplets. His brothers are Brody and Casey and his parents Thomas and Becky are well-known members of the community. His father is a captain at the Naugatuck Fire Department and his mother is a math coach at City Hill Middle School.

Avery was in the back seat of a car when it was struck from behind while stopped at a traffic light by a car reportedly driven by a distracted driver. The rest of the car’s occupants escaped with minor injuries. Avery’s injuries were more serious and he was rushed to Stony Brook University, where he underwent emergency surgery for a broken vertebrae. Nearly two months later, Avery continues his recovery at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford. Reports say he is able to move his arms and is now even walking with help from therapists, but still, he faces a long road to recovery.

At last Friday’s football game, during what is called the Miracle Minute, Naugatuck cheerleaders collected $412 in just one minute to help cover Avery’s expenses through donations from fans at halftime.

Cacase and NHS senior Alejandro Rangel organized the walk-a-thon. Rangel said the news of Avery’s accident inspired him to get involved.

“Alysha texted me over the summer and asked me if I wanted to help her with this project and I said, ‘sure thing,” Rangel said.

The two are members of the school’s DECA chapter, which promotes community service and outreach. The two have taken on Avery’s cause, not just for this weekend’s event but long term, and have made it part of their yearlong DECA project.

“When I found out how severe it was, I knew instantly that I had to help and do something to make a difference,” Cacase said.

So far, the project has raised $1700, but most importantly, it has served as a foundation for the high school to stand in support of an injured classmate and friend.

Support for the family in time of struggle is apparent with numerous events and fundraisers held in the Moore family’s honor.

Naugatuck intern teacher Chelsea Maza also played a leading role in planning the upcoming walk-a-thon. A graduate of NHS herself, she too has made helping Avery a part of her mission.

“We just want to do everything we can to help Avery and his recovery,” Maza said.

NHS Associate Principal Kristina Wallace said seeing the school community come together for a cause has been eye-opening.

“These kids have really taken a leadership role and just ran with it. In Naugatuck, the big thing is the ‘vision of the graduate,’ kids who are informed and responsible citizens. We can have tests and different measures for that, but something like this scenario, a real life situation, to be able to problem solve and raise this kind of money is incredible,” Wallace said.

The football stadium will be a busy place Saturday and Sunday morning. In addition to the walk-a-thon on the track, other activities and sporting events will also be held. And rest assured, there will be plenty of food and coffee, which will come in handy on a night where temperatures are expected to be a little chilly.

DECA, which also hosts the annual Rip the Runway fashion show, is later this year putting on a teachers vs. students dodge ball tournament with all proceeds go to help cover Avery’s long-term medical expenses.