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Casa's Matt Abramo dedicates kicks to CJ

Most varsity football players play for the glory, but this year, Casa Grande's place kicker Matt Abramo is playing for a cure.

It all started last year, when Casa Grande's Gauchos dedicated their football season to CJ Banaszek, a 12-year-old battling Leukemia and the grandson of coach Cas Banaszek.

Varsity place kicker Abramo, 16, was so moved by CJ's story that this year, he's conducting a fundraiser in his honor.

"It's just horrible what (CJ) is going through, and I wanted to help in any way I can," said Abramo, who recently lost his grandmother to cancer.

He spoke to CJ's family, who suggested he donate any funds raised to the organization Alex's Lemonade Stand, a nonprofit that raises money to fight childhood cancer and helps families with children battling the illness.

Over the summer, Abramo, a junior at Casa Grande, sought and secured donations from businesses and individuals, including All California Mortgage, Ann and Rick Jensen, the Baumsteiger Family, Candice Ryan at Dukes and Dolls, Cucina Paradiso, Farvest Christian School, Jill Heyer, Mary Brusco, Matt Baumsteiger, Michael's Sourdough, Kevin and Katie Mulcahy, Rachel Nixon at Dukes and Dolls, Dr. Raymond A. Ramos, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry, Petaluma Valley Athletic Club, Raley's, Bel Air, Nob Hill, Santa Rosa Physical Therapy, Sherry Fink, the Shilan Family, Wish Upon a Cupcake and others.

Some have provided one-time donations; others have pledged to give a certain amount for each field goal Abramo kicks during the season.

"It's just fantastic what they're doing to help me out," he said.

Abramo made good on his end with a field goal in Casa Grande's first game of the season last Friday in a win over Eureka.

He is still seeking donations and plans to continue the fundraiser in his senior year.

Anyone wishing to help can visit the website mattkicks4acure.com.

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