STA Shows Its Love for Newest Ahr Stars
Posted on 10/04/2019
As one of the most beloved St. Thomas Aquinas High School traditions, the Ahr Star program entered its 32nd year with the annual Spaghetti Dinner on Thursday, October 3. The program is a cornerstone of STA’s mission to serve others, in this case doing so by adopting families with children who live with chronic or acute medical conditions. This year, the two Ahr Stars are 8-year old Elijah Patino, known as “the warrior,” and 8-year old Andrew Yarus, a friend of student Anna Caruso ‘21 and her family.

The Spaghetti Dinner is the kickoff event for a year of many spirited and heart-filled events. The dinner, in particular, is when the STA community gets to meet the Ahr Stars for the first time and heap them with welcoming and love. The cafeteria full of attendees and volunteers erupted in applause as each of the Ahr Stars made their entrance, accompanied by family and STA students. Over the course of the evening, they were able to meet many students, faculty, parents, community members, and Felician Sisters from the Diocese of Metuchen. Andrew and Elijah were also showered with gifts from the Ahr Star Board and Varsity Football, Boys Basketball, Cheerleading, Volleyball, and Tennis teams. Reacting to the warmth and generosity, Elijah’s mom Noami said, “I’m just overwhelmed. I wasn’t expecting to walk into a room filled with strangers who are all praying for us.” Andrew’s mom Elizabeth added, “We just cannot express our gratitude for the generosity and love that we have experienced here.”

As the biggest fundraiser of the year, it is also an occasion to provide financial support to the families. The dinner is regularly attended by over 500 people and this year it raised over $10,000, all of which goes to the families. Ahr Star organizer and Campus Minister Sr. Cynthia said of the event, “Ahr Star is an activity of the heart. I’m always humbled by those who are the Ahr Stars and those who come to help. It’s a way for us to bring God’s face and heart to those who need him most.”

Helping Sr. Cynthia Babyak to make the Ahr Star program into the overwhelming success that it is are Ahr Star Co-Chairs Bethany Ciccarelli ’20 and Joey Dunn ’20 and a host of other students and Campus Ministry team members, not to mention over 180 student and faculty volunteers who dedicated their evening to ushering guests, serving food, cleaning tables, and accompanying the invitees. Additionally, the food, drinks, and paperware were all provided by generous student and community donations and the kitchen was crewed by the Woodbridge Knights of Columbus, who just this past weekend had been honored for their annual service at the St. Thomas Aquinas / Bishop Ahr High School 50th Anniversary Gala. Bethany Ciccarelli and Joey Dunn, now in their second year as Ahr Star Co-Chairs, offered their impression of their event: “Each and every year that we return to the Spaghetti Dinner, we are amazed by the same strong and passionate love that each and every individual brings to support the Ahr Star program.”

Sr. Cynthia best summed up the events of the evening with her remarks during the dinner, “It is so important to care for others and to show our students how to care.” And so, the Ahr Star Board, on behalf of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, would like to thank everyone who made this evening possible through their love, service, and support as it looks forward to another remarkable year.

Ahr Star Spaghetti Dinner 2019