2012-07-31 / Front Page
Foundation seeks to keep JMHS student’s name alive
JACKSON — It has been 14 months since tragedy struck the Jackson community in the form of a two-vehicle accident in neighboring Lakehurst that claimed the life of Jackson Memorial High School senior James Volpe.
In that time, friends and family members of the late Jackson Memorial baseball player created the James Volpe Foundation, a group dedicated to helping youths in local communities “reach their highest potential.” The foundation has since held several fundraisers.
“James was a very special kid. He was never in trouble, he was an honor student, he was funny and he had a very special future,” Volpe family friend and foundation member Rob Meleo told the Tri-Town News.
Starting on Aug. 18, the second annual James Volpe Foundation Wiffleball Tournament and Family Day is set to take place at the Holbrook Little League Complex on Bartley Road, Jackson.
“We look at this event as being a giant block party for all of our surrounding communities — an event where families can come play, eat, drink and mingle,” Volpe’s father, Anthony, said in a release.
The event, which will start at 9 a.m., is being billed as an affordable day of family fun that will include carnival rides, games and music.
Participants will be able to try their luck with a raffle and a 50/50 for a chance to win prizes donated by local businesses, ranging from a box of cigars from Beach House Cigars in Seaside Heights to a $500 high-definition television from Best Buy in Howell.
“Last year everyone had a great time, and we are trying to make it as much fun as we can while keeping it an affordable event for families,” Meleo said.
The event is an effort to raise money for the foundation, which donated more than $3,500 to charitable organizations in its first year.
According to the foundation’s website, the group has already contributed about $5,000 to other causes this year, along with a scoreboard for the Holbrook Little League field.
Although most of those donations went to local interests, about half of the money accumulated this year has gone to efforts as far-reaching as Maryland and Warminster, Pa.
“The Little League and Soccer Association [in Warminster] had an electrical fire in its equipment building where they lost around $18,000 worth of equipment,” Meleo said. “We are really trying to spread our footprint beyond the Shore Conference area. We want to help as many people as we can.”
Meleo, whose son, Matt, was James Volpe’s best friend and future roommate at Kean University, has been working with the organization since its inception.
In that time, the foundation has also awarded two $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors at Jackson Memorial High School and Jackson Liberty High School.
“We just wanted to keep [James’] memory alive in the best light possible. Our intent was to try to help kids around his age and younger to advance as far as they possibly can through scholarships and athletics,” Meleo said.
“The community as a whole has been supportive. The Volpes have been shocked by the outpouring of support, and it is one of their greatest comforts,” Meleo said. “The outpouring of community support was phenomenal.”
Although the Wiffleball event was created in the aftermath of the loss of a promising young individual, Meleo said that he believes Volpe would be getting a kick out of the community get-together.
“Personally, I think James would be laughing his butt off,” Meleo said with a chuckle. “I think he would be thrilled with what was going on and he would love all the attention with this.”
Tickets can be ordered in advance at the foundation’s website ($10 for ages 4 to 15, and $15 for ages 16 and up). Online orders are subject to a 75-cent convenience charge. Admission on the day of the event will be $15 and $20.
To participate in the Wiffleball tournament, each member of a four-player team must pay $25, which includes admission to the family day event, a T-shirt and the tournament awards.
For more information about the second annual James Volpe Foundation Wiffleball Tournament and Family Day, to order tickets in advance, or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit http://www.jamesvolpefoundation.org.
The May 13, 2011, accident that claimed Volpe’s life occurred just east of the Lakehurst Circle near Brown Avenue in Lakehurst, and also claimed the life of Robert Vallee, 41, of Manchester, after his vehicle was struck by a 2004 Lincoln LS being driven by Alex Daniele, who was a junior at Jackson Memorial High School at the time of the accident.
A third teenager in the Lincoln LS sustained injuries in the crash.
Daniele was subsequently charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and violating New Jersey’s provisional driver law. A telephone message left at the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office seeking an update on the case against Daniele was not returned by the Tri-Town News’ deadline.
— Contact staff writer Andrew Martins at email@example.com.