May 2, 2005
While most students look forward to the last day of classes for the mental break it offers, members of HACC's Student Wildwood Activities Team are anticipating the day for the opportunity to help those in need.

SWAT, as it is known on HACC's Harrisburg Campus, has planned an end of year carnival for Wednesday, May 4, from 3 to 11 p.m. that will benefit the Penn State Hershey Medical Center The Nino Fund. The carnival takes place on the athletic fields in front of the James Evans Physical Education Center. Area residents are welcome to join in the fun, and bring the children.

"SWAT is charged with hosting large scale campus events throughout the year that encourage students to relax, socialize and have fun," explains Lynette DiBrito, associate dean of Student Life. "Annually, the campus has hosted some type of end of the year celebration. This year, SWAT decided to host a community event that features many of the highlights from events they held earlier in the year plus many new ones."

The family attractions will include traditional carnival games and food, plus music and attractions like Virtual Reality Roller Coaster, Human Bowling and Moon Bounce.

"We'll have something for everyone from small children to adults," explained Dave Kerstetter, a HACC student and president of SWAT. "We're hoping for a big student and community turnout."

DiBrito stressed that Kerstetter has led an incredibly enthusiastic team of students that have worked hard, planned well and have been very intentional about what types of programs to provide to students, including this community service project.

"They have brought a wonderful dimension to our campus community," she said.

Kerstetter suggested the carnival fundraiser to SWAT members after learning about the plight of the Todaro family, who are struggling with the effects of a disorder known as Periodic Fever Syndrome. Six-year-old Nino suffers from the illness - some of the symptoms include an abrupt onset of fever, malaise, mouth ulcers and infections in the tonsils and pharynx. The cause of Periodic Fever Syndrome is unknown and there is no known cure.

Nino's mother, Lori Todaro, is the author of a book, The Journey. Released in January, the book tells her story of how she manages to stay strong and believe the best no matter what challenges she faces.

Todaro organized the fund to cover the cost of testing and treatment for children at Hershey Medical Center who are unable to have these unconventional treatments covered by their health insurance. The foundation is funded by a percentage of the proceeds from her book, as well as donations and fundraisers like the HACC carnival.

Kerstetter says Todaro's energy and positive outlook have inspired him.

"Working on this carnival for the last several weeks has put things in perspective for me," he said. "I really want the carnival to succeed for this family and for other children who benefit from The Nino Fund."

SWAT will charge a $2 donation for entrance to the carnival, which will cover the cost of all of the attractions. All the money the group raises will be donated to The Nino Fund. Other student organizations participating in the carnival will donate one to five percent of their profits to the fund as well.

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