OLD TAPPAN, N.J. -- Benjamin Zangoglia, 17, of Old Tappan, was named among New Jersey's top two youth volunteers of 2016 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
Zangoglia was nominated by North Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 21st year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Zangoglia, a senior at North Valley Regional High School, organized a fundraising team that collected more than $115,000 in donations last spring to find a cure for a rare form of leukemia that he has had since he was 10.
When he was first diagnosed, Zangoglia said he “hated everything about myself,” but after a “long, internal struggle,” he realized he couldn’t let his disease control his life.
With a new attitude, Zangoglia decided he wanted to help others living with blood cancer, especially children. “I needed to help rid the world of this insidious disease,” he said.
He got his chance when his oncologist nominated him to compete in the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s annual fundraising competition each spring. Zangoglia assembled a team of his closest friends and began strategizing ways to collect donations.
During the next 10 weeks, Zangoglia's “Team Be-CURE-ious” placed posters throughout Bergen County, sent e-mails and letters to potential donors, made telephone calls and in-person presentations, and solicited contributions from friends, family members and their business associates.
When the deadline arrived, the team had raised $115,332, the third-highest total in the New York City area.
“Leukemia taught me that everyone has the power to overcome the bleakest experience, and the right attitude always yields success,” Zangoglia said.