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City boy hits street to raise money for friend fighting leukemia

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 04. 2013 10:09PM

John Marrotte, a seventh-grader at Southside Middle School in Manchester, is conducting a fund drive for classmate Janesa Negron, who has leukemia. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER - You probably don't know John Marrotte yet, but get ready.

With a school friend struggling with leukemia, the 13-year-old Southside Middle School student has taken it upon himself to raise money for her family.

He's set up a Facebook page. He's hit up students at Southside, and his brother has done the same at Memorial High School.

And this week, he started knocking on doors in south Manchester, money can in hand, quietly asking people to donate to a fund on behalf of Janesa Negron. In two days, he said, the effort has raised $75.

"It's going good. Some people say no; of course they will. Some people don't even listen to what I have to say. Whatever," said Marrotte, just before plying the homes on Fox Street and Mapleton Road on Wednesday afternoon.

Negron was diagnosed with cancer in early January, and doctors started aggressive chemotherapy treatments right away, said her mother, Deanna Negron. On Feb. 25, she was designated as in remission, but she will need preventive treatments for two years.

Meanwhile, she is now struggling with side effects - low energy, body aches, balance problems - associated with the treatment, her mother said. Still, she hopes to return to school on a part-time basis as early as next week.

She said the family can't say enough about Marrotte and his mother, Donna Lungo.

"I can't even tell you how supportive and amazing and just wonderful they are to Janesa," Negron said.

Marrotte sends Janesa text messages, has brought her scarves and lotions, and even made a scrapbook for his friend.

"She's really feeling down lately. Having a friend who is very supportive makes it easier," Negron said.

Marrotte shrugs when asked why he does it. "I just want to help," he said.

On a sunny, warm afternoon this week, Marrotte easily found people at home.

"He cleaned me out," said Mapleton Road resident Luiz Pinheiro, who turned over $3. "It's a great thing to do."

Shirley Kirouac, who was getting into her car, said she was on her way to the bank. She hoped he would be around when she returned. "I didn't want to give him quarters," she said.

Fox Street resident Eva Rugolleti gave her last dollar.

"It great that he's trying to do something for the community, friends helping friends. It's great to see youth involved," she said.

Negron, a Head Start social worker, and her husband Jose, a machine operator, have health insurance, she said. But the hospitalization and doctor appointments mean they've lost work hours, and they have additional expenses of transportation to Boston, parking and medication, Negron said.

The family of six has fallen behind, she said.

Marrotte also hopes to get a car wash going later this spring.

He said he met Negron two years ago, when they started attending Southside. They don't share classes this year, and he said they aren't even that close. But after visiting her in the hospital, he decided to do something.

"I just want to try to be there," he said, "as much as possible, any way I can."

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