South Orangetown Central School District

When the Class of 2024 proposed a unique fundraiser concept to Tappan Zee High School Principal Rudy Arietta, he saw an opportunity to collaborate. The result: Arietta spent all three lunch periods yesterday taped to the main hallway wall as students exchanged donations for pieces of duct tape…and raised funds for the freshman class, which donated a portion of proceeds to his #EndNF challenge.

Arietta has been training to “Everest”–climb 29,029 vertical feet within 36 hours–as a personal challenge this August. The 29029 event in Utah will require Arietta to hike up a single mountain 13 times. If successful, he will have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, to challenge myself,” Arietta noted. “Coming out of COVID, I realized that we need to do a better job at teaching our kids how to be resilient. 2020-21 has been hard, but growth comes from challenge. How can we seek out challenges instead of fearing them?”

But the quest is more than a physical and mental challenge, it’s also about giving back. “Basketball games are one of the biggest pieces of our school’s cultural life. The annual Two Counties, One Cause Tournament is a huge event in our community and we weren’t able to host that this year. I wanted to do something to replace that missing element,” he said, noting that his climb will benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation. “While my repeated climbs up the mountain won’t be as exciting as watching our team on the court, I am honored to be doing this raise to change the lives of people living with Neurofibromatosis.”

Principal taped to wall