Town rallies behind ‘Little Angelina’

Little League fundraiser, other events will help 2.5-year-old girl

When Little League President Robert Quinones found out that one of the families in his program needed help, he had to do what he could.
It was during baseball tryouts that Quinones first heard the devastating news. Angelina Sforza, the 2.5 year old daughter of North Bergen residents Luigi and Diana, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a deadly and rare childhood cancerous tumor.
Quinones said that Angelina’s older brother, Giovanni, wasn’t performing up to his usual standard at football tryouts. So a coach asked what was going on, and the boy told him.

“It’s making us stronger.” – Diana Sforza
“I got a call immediately that day,” said Quinones, “telling me that one of our families from the league was in trouble and had a serious need financially.”
Residents and local businesses showed their support for the family during a giant fundraiser at the North Bergen Recreation Department at 6300 Meadowview Ave. last Sunday.
According to her parents, Angelina has an 11-centimeter tumor on her adrenal glands between her kidneys and liver. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
“She still has a long road ahead of her as far as treatment is concerned,” said Diana, who added that Angelina is currently in one of three phases of treatment that will last at least a year and a half. Each phase consists of six 21-day cycles of chemotherapy.
“As of right now, her cancer hasn’t spread any further,” added Diana. “We’ll be making weekly trips to the hospital.”
“From what we understand, the [medical] bills can run up into the millions,” said Luigi.
“In the beginning it was very difficult for her,” said Diana. “All these people were constantly poking and prodding her. Of course, she didn’t like it.”
Both parents also indicated that they are trying to keep Angelina from feeling alienated.
“She’s getting used to the routine,” continued Diana. “She doesn’t understand that she’s sick, and we are trying to keep a positive attitude around her to make her feel normal.”
“It’s not even a day-by-day situation,” continued Diana. “It’s hour-by-hour.”
“It’s making us stronger I feel,” added Diana.

The town responds

Quinones and the rest of the North Bergen Little League staff decided to collect donations in order to help the family with their medical bills.
“We started reaching out to all our league sponsors,” said Quinones. “Everyone without hesitation decided to donate.”
Donations from sponsors and other residents enabled Quinones to put together the fundraiser last Sunday, which was preceded by a breakfast event at Applebee’s at 88th Street and Tonnelle Avenue. The recreation center was filled with kids’ attractions, which were donated by both local sponsors, as well as former members of the North Bergen Little League program.
Sunday’s football games were displayed on a projector, along with catering from local businesses. Children enjoyed the inflatable attractions, and others utilized the basketball courts for pickup games.
Angelina and her parents were also present at the event.
“We just wanted her to feel this energy,” said Luigi. “This is an amazing atmosphere. It’s pure love.”
Although Quinones expects to raise roughly $6,000 from the fundraiser, he is also receiving donations from others who were unable to attend.
“I’m getting phone calls at work daily for people that just want to give,” said Quinones. “These people have no idea who I am. Every time I turn around, it’s someone else.”
Both Luigi and Diana expressed their gratitude toward the local community’s charity.
“The support and love has been overwhelming,” said Luigi. “People you’ve never met before that just show love.”
“It’s been phenomenal,” said Diana. “It hits close to home for a lot of people, especially those that have kids.”
The story particularly impacted Quinones, who has been organizing much of the fundraising.
“It touched me immediately,” said Quinones. “I’m a single dad of two.”
Quinones also mentioned that when he gets home to his kids, he takes solace in being able to know that they’re healthy and safe.
He added, “I know I want to do whatever I can to give [the Sforza family] that same peace and comfort.”
For information on donating and upcoming events, visit According to the family, all donations go toward Angelina’s medical bills.
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at

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