Joseph “Joe” Wilczewski was an all-American kid who loved the Caldwells where he was born and raised, according to his sister Erin Ruoff.
That’s why proceeds from a fundraiser being held in his memory this weekend will remain in the community.
Ruoff is organizing a special event at Cleveland’s Tap Room, 555 Passaic Ave., in West Caldwell, on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. Attendees will get four hours of open bar and appetizers for $35. The band Local Heroes, with family friend Tony Caggiano, is performing free for the occasion.
“I just want everything about this to be local,” Ruoff said.
Wilczewski was killed on Dec. 3, 2010 when he was struck by a car while attempting to cross Route 3 in Secaucus. He was 22 and a senior at Montclair State University, where he was studying communications.
Proceeds from the Cleveland’s event will go mostly toward scholarships for two senior lacrosse players at James Caldwell High School.
Wilczewski graduated from the school in 2006. He played on the school's first boys lacrosse team and became an All-Star, his sister said.
A portion of proceeds from the night will be set aside to help a local family in need during the holidays.
“Joey and I never questioned whether there was going to be Christmas,” Ruoff said Monday. “I know today it’s not like that.”
Ruoff said she set up the Joseph Michael Wilczewski Scholarship Fund online in early October with the goal of raising a $1,000. She met that goal in the first 24 hours and has raised more than $4,000 to date.
To support the fund, visit www.gofundme.com/12enus.