BEVERLY — Kendel Davy, Jack Morency and Joey Kozlowski haven’t had to practice their presentation for this weekend’s state DECA competition at the Marriott in Boston all that much.
The three Beverly High student-athletes know their story by heart — and it most certainly comes from the heart.
Davy, a junior cheerleader and hurdler for the Panthers, along with seniors Morency, a football captain and four-year hockey defenseman, and Kozlowski, also a football captain and baseball player, will be speaking about 6-year-old Riley Fessenden. The Beverly resident and first grader at the Ayers Ryal Side Elementary School was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Esthesioneuroblastoma last spring, and the city has rallied around her.
“All three of them have become very emotionally attached to Riley,” said Kristen Marescalchi, head of Beverly High’s DECA program. “It’s amazing. They’re not doing this as a project anymore; they’re doing it because it’s what you should do. They’re doing whatever they can to help make Riley happy, healthy and comfortable.
“It’s been the best community service project we’ve ever had at Beverly High — and we’ve had some very good ones.”
Davy, Morency and Kozlowski qualified for states at a DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) regional qualifier. Should they finish in the top five this weekend, they’d get the chance to compete at DECA Nationals in Atlanta next month.
“The three of us, when we were first going over the project and working on our presentation, we overthought everything,” admitted the 17-year-old Morency. “But when we got there and got everything ready to go, it just came to us.
“This isn’t something we have to memorize; we see Riley all the time and know her like the back of our hands. She’s a huge part of our lives now. We just speak from the heart.”