HARRISBURG – A Central Bucks School District teacher who established a foundation supporting children with complex medical needs was honored with the Pennsylvania State Education Association’s Human and Civil Rights Award for a community leader.
Mary Pellegrino, a special education teacher at Tohickon Middle School and member of the Central Bucks Education Association, received the award from association at the Celebrating Excellence banquet at the group’s House of Delegates convention in Pittsburgh.
“Mary is a great example of how educators take the work they do in the classroom into their communities,” said PSEA President Dolores McCracken, a paraprofessional with the Council Rock School District. “She teaches kids every day, then goes home and helps children who have cancer. Her life is a true example of service.”
Pellegrino, of Warrington, co-founded the BennettStrong Foundation in honor of her son Bennett, who was born a micro-preemie at 1 pound, 2 ounces and was later diagnosed and treated for hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer. The accomplishments of the BennettStrong Foundation have included hosting two pediatric cancer football games at Central Bucks West, at which cancer warriors including Bennett are team captains for the game.
The foundation’s first gala in February raised more than $6,000 to support families with children receiving care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The foundation is currently working with CHOP to create neonatal/infant intensive care unit family survival kits.
“We are pleased to honor Mary and the BennettStrong Foundation for the important, caring work they have done in their community,” McCracken said. “She and her foundation have transformed the challenge of dealing with cancer into an opportunity to help others. It’s truly inspiring.”