At first, Nick Farro was just organizing a wrestling clinic to get a good grade for his freshman project at Delbarton.
His mother, Mary Farro, suggested making the event into a fundraiser for his older brother’s school, the Children’s Institute in Livingston.
Vinny Farro, 18, has autism, and will soon be aging out of the New Jersey school system. On Oct. 1, the Children’s Institute launched an adult day program, the Center for Independence, which teaches life and concept skills, and vocational and personal development.
Nick Farro’s wrestling clinic raised $2,125 toward the new center, which will serve 25 adults this fall.
“(Wrestling) is what I do the most, and it means the most to me,” said Farro, a Morris Township resident who won the 113-pound weight class at District 9 and Region 3, and reached the quarterfinals at the Tournament of Champions in Atlantic City.
“I wanted to do something with wrestling, because I like it, and it’s what I do. I thought it would be a good way to enjoy the project.”
Farro created a Facebook page for the clinic, titled “Battling Autism, One Takedown at a Time,” and passed out flyers at local wrestling clubs.
He invited experienced wrestlers like undefeated four-time NJSIAA champion Anthony Ashnault of South Plainfield, Seton Hall Prep’s two-time champ Brenden Calas and his own longtime coach Mike Harris of Force Wrestling School to coach. Forty-five students from 15 different elementary, middle and high schools participated. Each of the coaches demonstrated “something that helped them be successful in high school wrestling.”
Farro showed the high crotch and takedown defense.
“Kids were learning everything wrestling teaches you, besides the technique, all the other aspects of wrestling like dedication and hard work,” he said. “Going to hand in the money, I saw all the kids with special needs, and everything they were doing (at the institute) was pretty cool. It puts into perspective everything you have, and what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Kimberley Rushmore, the center’s director, is planning to use the money to purchase state-of-the-art cash registers for Royal Oak, the gift and flower shop run by the clients. That will enable them to practice on real-world technology, increasing their employment opportunities.
Farro hopes to expand his clinic next year.
“I was so impressed with his maturity, and his understanding of the need that’s out there for such programs,” Rushmore said. “You really can’t ask for someone his age to be more in touch with their community and other people’s needs.”