Basketball Tournament Raises Money to Cure Rare Cancer

BY DIANA BIERMAN
In honor of 9-year-old Janiah Rollins, the St. Peter’s Cadets Memorial Basketball Tournament was held at St. Peter’s School in Haverstraw from December 17 until December 21.

Spring Valley resident, Janiah, was diagnosed with a rare malignant brain tumor called pineoblastoma when she was just 7-years-old in November 2009. For a year and a half, her family and friends were with her during her struggle to fight it, but tragically she passed away on June 30, 2011.

At the conclusion of the final game, the tournament raised $1,200 in donations for the Janiah Rollins Foundation. “The foundation is to help provide financial assistance to other families who may be experiencing the same situation I experienced,” Janiah’s father Julius Rollins said. “Through the Janiah Rollins Foundation, we hope to assist in research efforts toward finding a cure for pineoblastoma.”

In addition to raising money for the organization, Rollins said that the main point of the effort was to remember Janiah, to build something in her name, and to have her spirit live on. “Her bubbly personality and charm allowed her to easily make friends and be well liked by everyone,” he wrote in a pamphlet given out to the crowds at the games.

Eight different 5th grade girls Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) teams participated in the tournament including Julius Rollins’ team, the St. Peter’s Gidgets. Other teams that played were Sacred Heart, St. Margaret’s, St. Aedan’s, St. Augustine’s, Immaculate Conception, and two teams from St. Gregory Barbarigo. The final game came down to St. Peter’s vs. St. Margaret’s, with St. Peter’s 5th grade girls earning the title of the champs, winning 25-15.

“The tournament was a great way to bring welcoming support from the community,” said Esskee Doucet of New City. “Everyone was very gracious with their donations so it worked out well.”

“Hopefully it will be an annual event,” said Janiah’s uncle, Jonathan Rollins, of Spring Valley. In honor of his niece, he created a clothing line called Hy Lyf; the motto is “Aim high, Think high.”

“She loved fashion,” he explained. “She always thought she was Miley Cyrus.”

Janiah was survived by her father, her mother, Sharaya Lakes, her three brothers, three sisters, and many other family members and friends. She had a great artistic ability, loved to listen to music and read books, and wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up.

If you would like to donate to the Janiah Rollins Foundation, please send contributions to PO Box 534, New City, NY 10956, or contact Janiah’s grandmother, Tonjia Booth, at 845-300-2470.