, Salem, MA

August 3, 2013

Jean DePlacido column: Riley Rocks Family Carnival to be held at Beverly High

Jean DePlacido
The Salem News

---- — Riley Rocks Family Carnival will be held at Beverly High on Sunday August 25 to help defray the medical costs of six-year old cancer victim Riley Fessenden. There will be arts and crafts, face painting, a dunk tank, games, bouncy houses, and carnival food from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. with all proceeds going to the Riley Rocks Fund.

The Fessendens are Beverly residents, who have four children. Riley’s mother Kamie played field hockey and basketball for the Panthers while her father Todd went to St. John’s Prep for two years before returning home to play soccer at Beverly High for coach Mike Cahill.

This past May, Riley, who at the time was a kindergartner at the Ayers Elementary School, was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her nasal cavity that extended into the brain. This rare form of cancer is called esthesioneuroblastama (ENB), and Riley is going to need several surgeries. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments through Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

The Riley Rocks Fund has been set up at the Beverly Cooperative Bank to help defray medical bills. It was Riley who came up with the catching slogan “Riley Rocks”, and the youngster with the bright smile remains positive throughout her many treatments.

The Fessenden family is active in the Beverly community, and volunteers are seeking contributions from local businesses, services donated at the family carnival, and gift cards which will be given away as raffle prizes or silent auction items. A comedy night is also being planned at a future date.

Friends of the Riley Rocks Fund, who are helping to organize the carnival. The carnival is a family event, and they are hoping people will come out to have fun and help support a great cause. For more information go to


The Kyle Arrington All-American Fundamentals Showcase, a combine held by the New England Patriots cornerback, was a big success, and several local kids did well at the event. Bishop Fenwick’s Eric Razney won Speed Racer for fastest 40 (4.49) and 20 yard shuttle (4.04).

Tristan Smith from Hamilton-Wenham was fastest in the offenses and defenses line while Chris Cervizzi from Brooks School (North Reading) won the fastest L/drill. Seth Harold of Governor’s Academy won the top quarterback performer in his age group. The top Young Gun was Hunter Smith of Hamilton-Wenham, who ran a 4.71.

“The day went very well and a lot of football fundamentals were learned,” said NFL Player Agent Sean Stellato, who represents Arrington and several other pro players. “The kids competed very hard.”


Thomas Lane still has two more years of high school remaining, but the Phillips Andover rising junior has committed to Boston College on a substantial scholarship. The pitcher from Georgetown has been playing AAU for Legends out of Middleton since he was 14.

“I decided to commit early because I knew BC was the best fit for me,” said Lane. “I took some time to think about it, and talked with my family. I fell in love with the school and the baseball program immediately.”

His Legends coach Ryan Leahy, a former BC star and pro player, believes Lane has made a great choice.

“I’ve coached Thomas for two years on the Legends 18 and under prospect team,” said Leahy, who is from Salem and is a St. John’s Prep graduate. “He’s a big righthander, who throws his fast ball as high as 89 and has a very good feel for the off-speed stuff. Lane has the right combination of academics and athletics going for him and had offers from UVA, Duke, William & Mary, Wake Forest, and Fordham.

“I know coach Mike Gambino, and he is doing a great job at BC. They are very committed to Thomas. He will have every chance to succeed there, and it’s a great fit for him. I’m predicting a great future in the ACC.”

Leahy’s Legends team is have a very successful season with a 30-10 record. They won the Blue Chip All-American Tournament recently with 83 other teams vying for it.


After 11 years Mike Giardi has decided to close his Hit Zone indoor baseball facility in Swampscott, but he will remain active in the sport he loves, doing camps, clinics, and giving lessons at locations across the North Shore. The former Salem High and Harvard baseball star, who had a four year pro career, will run Giardi’s Professional Baseball Academy with his staff during February and April school vacations and continue to work with the Marblehead Parks and Recreation Department during the summer.

“There are a lot of great memories there,” said Giardi. “I really enjoy teaching the game I love, and will continue to do it.”


Jean DePlacido is a correspondent for The Salem News. You can contact her at