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McCarthy Represented ‘Everything That Is Good and Great About Tewksbury’

TMHS DECA aims high for annual fashion show, with 130 students participating

By Hazel Garabedian

On Tuesday evening, Nov. 14, at the McGrath Auditorium at Tewksbury Memorial High School, the TMHS DECA program will host their annual Meghan McCarthy Fashion Show. This fashion show has taken place for well over 25 years, dating back to the days of Mrs. Cynthia Basteri when she was the business teacher and DECA advisor at TMHS. Back then, the show was run to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and continued to do so through current teacher and advisor Jim Sullivan’s tenure, but in 2010, that all changed.

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Late in the 2007 school year, Meghan McCarthy, a smart, vibrant, and extremely athletic freshman at Tewksbury Memorial High School, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a highly aggressive and inoperable brain tumor. Meghan would go on to live her life for the next two and half years undergoing experimental treatments as this was an incredibly rare form of cancer in children, so rare that the only form of treatment known was that for adults. Throughout the remainder of her freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years, Meghan would live each and every day to the fullest. She continued to participate in the TMHS field hockey and basketball programs, all while undergoing these treatments and attending school.

“Meghan was an absolute trooper where she would go to her treatments in Boston, get in the car and travel back to school and be there for the school day, then go to be by her teammates’ sides at practices and games during both seasons,” said Sullivan.

In addition, Meghan got out there in the community and helped to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, to help others battling cancer. Meghan made such an impact on so many other lives in her short time here with us that in 2008 she was named one of The Lowell Sun’s Most Interesting People after raising $20,000 as just a 15 year old. 

“Meghan lived each day as if it were her last, not only for herself, but more so for the good and benefit of others, which is a big part of why we continue to do what we do each year,” said Sullivan.

Meghan passed away on Jan. 19, 2010, succumbing to all that came along with her glioblastoma multiforme diagnosis. Meghan lived an incredibly busy and active lifestyle during her high-school years, whether she was out representing the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, on Make a Wish trips where she got to meet her idol Dustin Pedroia, taking on and dealing with her treatments, participating in her high school athletic programs, or helping to coordinate the TMHS DECA annual Fashion Show back in 2009, in which she walked.

Struggling with her health conditions, Meghan, with her limited vision, walked the runway with great flair and enthusiasm, all while raising funds for the Flying Henry’s, Meghan’s pedal partners in the well known PanMass Challenge. Meghan would go on to graduate early from TMHS, where she received her diploma in January of 2010. She had earned all of her credits and was an Honor Roll student. 

Since Meghan’s passing, the TMHS DECA program has chosen to honor, memorialize and celebrate the life of Meghan McCarthy by dedicating their annual Fashion Show to her cause. 

“Meghan represented everything that is good and great about Tewksbury and our community,” said Sullivan. “Meghan brought this community together during her tough times and following her passing, and that means so very much to me and our DECA program. It is our responsibility to carry Meghan’s mission and passion along to others that walk the halls of TMHS, while helping to raise funds to support Meghan’s mission, which was to help others. Meghan is very special to many of us in this community, especially our TMHS DECA program, and this is our way to help to celebrate her life while spreading the word about her to others. Yes, the goal is to celebrate and remember Meghan and her life, but it is to also raise funds to support the Meghan McCarthy Research Fund.”

The Meghan McCarthy Research Fund was created in 2010 by Meghan’s mom, Lee, and it is associated with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. When Lee created this fund, it was her goal to someday, somehow, have $1 million dollars donated in her daughter Meghan’s name to help and support others through the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. One million dollars was such a tremendous amount of money, but oh what an honor it would be to Meghan to have that associated with her, a small-town girl from Tewksbury, Massachusetts. 

That brings us to today and this year’s Meghan McCarthy Fashion Show. As Lee McCarthy addressed the more than 100 TMHS DECA students back in September, she brought amazing news. Lee informed these students that as a result of all the events that had been held over the years to benefit the Meghan McCarthy Research Fund, that it was just $12,500 shy of reaching her dream goal of $1 million. Some of the events that have helped contribute to this cause through the years include, but are not limited to, poker runs, bike rides, road races, cornhole tournaments and this annual fashion show. 

After a highly successful show last year that raised an amazing $20,032 under the direction of Sam Ryan, Emma Jensen, John Regolino and Michael Sullivan, this year’s coordinators, Cullen Mangan, Avery DellaPiana, Drew Rennell, Kiera Frechette and Kallie Frechette, set their sights even higher, trying to raise over $25,000. Thus far, the Tewksbury students have responded: There are 115 TMHS students and 15 Wynn Middle School 8th graders who will be participating in the show, an all-time high.

This will be a record-breaking year for this event both in participation and in money raised.

In addition to the show of students and fashionable clothing, the night will include additional opportunities to donate through Meghan McCarthy Fashion Show t-shirts, a bake sale, and 18 raffles and three silent auction items that include a pair of Boston Bruins tickets, a pair of Boston Celtics tickets and a set of four Boston Celtics floor tickets.

This year’s group is hoping to make a huge impact and want to at least double last year’s funds raised. Please come on out and join us for a fantastic evening on Nov. 14 at TMHS and help us celebrate, remember and raise funds for Meghan. If you are unable to attend, donations can be made here.

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