By Rick Cawley

For the Review

When Grace Hannigan, a 15-year-old SCH Academy student and former IHM CYO track and cross country runner, found out that her one-time teammate Luisa “Weezy” Pellicone had been diagnosed with Leukemia, she brainstormed for a way in which she could help Luisa and the Pellicone family through this ordeal.

She had imagined doing a race event fundraiser but realized that the Covid pandemic parameters might prohibit such an endeavor. The next best thing she contemplated would be to stage a virtual event where participants could run a 5K in the confines of small groups and families at their own leisure.

And thus sprang the ideation of the “Weezy Warriors.” Grace utilized the services of her mother and IHM track coach, Becky, to help her with the logistics of bringing her concept to fruition. She crafted an email that was sent to the IHM track community explaining how they could take part in the virtual event and raise funds to assist the Pellicone family in dealing with their medical bills.

In her email, Grace spelled out her relationship with Luisa and the Pellicone family through their mutual participation in Track and Cross Country and her desire to help this precious child in her battle with Leukemia. She spelled out her affection for “Weezy” and her inner strength. Luisa “is one of the sweetest girls I have met, but she is also very tough because she is a runner.”

Becky Hannigan also was invaluable in distributing “Weevy Warriors” t-shirts that were printed up for the event, mostly on pick-up nights at IHM and a few that had to be mailed or dropped off. The cost of printing the t-shirts was generously covered by Tinneny Exterminating so that that all of the proceeds that were produced could be bestowed to the Pellicone family.

Grace had conservatively envisioned bringing in as much as $2,000 from the events proceeds. However, through social networking and old-fashioned word of mouth her project took wings, so to speak. To date, more than $14,000 has been generated and still growing.

Folks from as far as North Carolina have jumped on the bandwagon along with an outpouring of supporters with ties to numerous area schools including IHM, Hallahan, Roman Catholic, Father Judge, the Mount, Merion Mercy, SCH, and Archbishop Carroll.

Participants had a beautiful, fall-like day in order to carry out their 5k (3.1 miles) Weezy mission. Many of the local entrants took advantage of the trails in the Wissahickon Valley with some discovering the hidden treasure of the Tedyuscung statue near the Rex Avenue bridge. Others blazed their own trail whether it be down the shore or even around their own neighborhood. Regardless of the paths taken, the theme of helping the Pellicone family was the impetus that got so many involved and provided the motivating force to hit the roads.

The Pellicone family was overwhelmed with the caring and generosity of the community. The Weezy Warriors was just the antidote to help them get through a difficult crisis. Luisa is in her 3rd month undergoing chemo treatment at Children’s Hospital and as mom Meghan realistically puts it “still has a long journey ahead of her.”

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