When news broke of a 19-year-old Allendale native who committed suicide while away at college last week, one Wyckoff student who had never met her said the story inspired him to do something that he said could hopefully help other struggling kids.
Vinny Guaglardi is a 15-year-old Ramapo High School sophomore who lives in Wyckoff. Though the football and lacrosse player said many of his friends were friends with Holleran, he did not know her personally.
“My family was just affected by her story,” Guaglardi told Patch Wednesday night.
“We were talking about what we had heard around town and at school about it at the dinner table, and I decided to read all of the [news] articles about her death to find out more about her.”
According to reports on NorthJersey.com, about 600 people attended Holleran’s funeral Wednesday. The Northern Highlands graduate and track star was playing sports at the University of Pennsylvania and was likely clinically depressed when she decided last Friday night to buy presents for her family members, leave them in her room along with a suicide note, and jump from the top of a parking garage in Center City, reports say.
“In one of the articles I read, Madison’s dad said that he’d rather people donate to help suicide prevention than send flowers, so I thought I might be able to help carry that out in her honor,” Guaglardi said.
So, Monday night, he created the “Run with Madison” fundraiser on crowdrise.com, an online campaign that plans to donate all of its proceeds to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in memory of Madison.
As of Thursday morning, the campaign had already raised over $10,000.
“I never expected to raise so much money so quickly,” Guaglardi, who mostly spread the word about the fundraiser through social media posts, said.
“I think it’s amazing that so many people are donating. This was such a sad event that really impacted the whole community, so I think this is one way people can come together to support something.
Though Guaglardi has not yet personally talked to Holleran’s family about the effort he started, he said he has reached out to them through mutual friends.
“They are aware of this and very appreciative,” he said.
Get more information on the fundraiser and how to donate here.