OLD TAPPAN, N.J. -- When a fellow parent in the Old Tappan wrestling community had a stroke two weeks ago, Frank Dippolito didn't waste any time. He went straight to fundraising for the man's family -- and people across the area are responding.
"Those of you who know John Murawski know that there is no more fanatical wrestling fan and parent around," Dippolito wrote on the GoFundMe page he set up. "John's excitement for the sport is contagious and is only outweighed by his love for his family."
Murawski had what Dippolito characterized as a "significant stroke." He wanted to facilitate fundraising, "so they're not worrying about an income stream while John's in the hospital."
He anticipates that Murawski will also need a good deal of rehabilitation.
Individuals and families making donations also noted that they were sending along their thoughts and prayers, as well as general offers of assistance.
Other wrestling organizations -- including Northern Valley PAL Junior Wrestling, the Pascack Valley Jr. wrestling program, River Dell wrestling and St. Joseph Regional High School wrestling -- also posted their well-wishes, along with their donations.
Business donors so far include apparel company 5Kount and Ken Ewald, of Closter's Atlas Woodworking.
Dippolito also takes a larger view of the fundraising effort: "It's the whole community coming together, showing the kids a good example, about the importance of community."
At this past Saturday's wrestling meet, the team also sold #TeamMurawski t-shirts, to assist in the fundraising. 5Kount is also assisting with fundraising through the t-shirt sales: 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the family.
Folks can also buy these online, in sizes ranging from youth small to extra-large adult sizes, for men and women. You can buy them here.
Murawski's son, Matt, is the student wrestler of the family. Dippolito said he's a talented wrestler, but he had been out since the beginning of the season, with an injury.
"It's kinds of ironic, Matthew's coming off injury -- he's a very successful wrestler in the district -- one week to the day of his father falling ill," Dippolito said.
Matt's a junior at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan, and his sister, Brianna, is a senior there.
Dippolito said that wrestling is a sport that brings people together, anyway, both in the school district and throughout the valley, but that #TeamMurawski "has kind of given Matthew and the team a new purpose," beyond working toward state sectional championship.
As of Monday afternoon, the online campaign has raised just over $23,000 of its initial $25,000 goal. You can view the GoFundMe page -- and perhaps donate as well -- here.
"Please find it in your heart to donate anything you are able," Dippolito added.