Oak Knoll’s varsity tennis team dedicated its 2019 season to raising awareness for melanoma and collected $500 to fund research for the disease in honor of the late Christopher Westdyk, brother of current and former members of the program.
The effort was a teamwide initiative and specifically benefits the Melanoma Research Foundation, which has a mission to eradicate the disease while also educating and advocating for those battling it.
The team wore black ribbons on their warm-up shirts, which represent melanoma awareness, and sold bracelets. In addition to donning the gear themselves, the team gave ribbons and bracelets to players and coaches of other teams at the recent Preps Tournament. The team also held a bake sale at the NJSIAA Tennis championships.
“Chris serves as an inspiration for all of us,” said Mary Margaret Schroeder, co-captain of the varsity team. “Chris, along with his family, did amazing work for the foundation and received its Courage Award.”
While the tennis season has ended, Schroeder encourages members of the Oak Knoll community and beyond to continue their efforts by donating to the foundation online.
“It’s important for sports teams to support charities because it exemplifies (Holy Child Founder) Cornelia Connelly’s message of nurturing the whole child and seeing God in all that we do,” she said. “As students at Oak Knoll, it just makes sense since ‘God is central in our lives,’ it is a huge aspect of who we are, and it feels like a natural part of our programs to use our opportunities to give back.”
Schroeder also thanked everyone who supported the team’s outreach efforts.
“The charities and service the team picked are very close to our hearts, and there is so much passion and genuine enthusiasm from the entire community, not just the athletes, to support others in every way we can,” she said.
Christopher Westdyk is the brother of Kaitlin Westdyk ’21, who currently competes on the junior varsity team, and former players Alyssa Westdyk ’19 and Caroline Westdyk ’17.