The Mahwah High School football team is asking fans to come out and wear purple at Friday night’s game against Fort Lee.
“Do it for Vinny,” the players say.
Though only eight years old, Vinny Accurso has been an important member of the Mahwah football team for the past five years. His older brother Anthony joined the team when the family moved here in 2005. Due to a lung condition Vinny was born with, he was never able to play the game. Vin was born with a condition that “means that basically his two main arteries were backwards,” his mom Nadine says. Vinny underwent surgery to correct the issue at just four days old, but at a year old, he was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension.
“Not too many people know about it, but basically it's like high blood pressure of the lungs,” Vinny’s dad Frank said. Dealing with the disease every day, Vinny is a patient at the children's hospital in NYC and constantly needs to wear a backpack through which he intravenously receives medication.
“We don't really know if he'll ever actually be able to strap on a helmet and play football but he loves the game,” said Ron Riccie, who coached the current seniors on the football team when they played in the youth league as kids. “So he became part of our team, and it's really nice that that was able to continue once the boys got into high school under coach Remo.”
When the team was in eighth grade, Vinny became the official mascot. He came to all the games wearing a Mahwah jersey made just for him. Friday, the senior members of the football team will be playing their last game together as Thunderbirds, closing out the football season with a game against Fort Lee at 6 p.m.
In honor of pulmonary hypertension awareness month, and in honor of Vinny, the entire team will be decked out in purple wristbands and have purple towels on hand to give out to fans in the stands. The team is asking members of the township to come out to the game, and to wear purple to show their support.
“I think it's really great that we can do this for my brother, because he really has been an important part of this team and now this is our last time playing together. It's just fitting that he's a part of it,” Vinny’s brother, Anthony, said. “Vin is a lot of fun, makes us all laugh, and I love getting out to hang out with him at home and on the field.”
Vinny said he’d appreciate the purple show of support as well. “I think it’s important so that way people can know about it, and maybe we can find a cure for this thing,” he said.
You can read more about Vinny and his family's journey on their blog, and remember to wear purple to Friday night’s football game at Mahwah at 6 p.m. against Fort Lee.