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Pitching in to help fight cancer

As a high-school student growing up in Braintree, Mass., Brittney Rizo spent a great deal of her time as a professional figure skater. The sport’s grueling travel schedule, explained Rizo, now a rising junior studying English at Northeastern, often caused her to fall behind in class — especially in math, a subject with which she struggled. But one math teacher in particular, Kyle Piazza, took the time to help Rizo catch up on her class work.

Piazza passed away last October after battling cancer, but Rizo will always remember him “as a teacher who lit up a room of students over calculus. He could get everyone to love it.”

Rizo noted that Piazza was passionate about everything he did in life, including playing competitive wiffle ball on a national level.

That’s why she and her brother, Jared, have organized a wiffle-ball tournament this weekend to honor Piazza’s memory and raise money for the Jimmy Fund, which supports the fight against cancer in children and adults at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The double-elimination tournament featuring teams of four will begin on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Braintree’s Hollingsworth Park. Teams can register on the day of the event for $150 or sign up by Thursday for $90.

Rizo noted that Braintree has been incredibly supportive of the tournament, which will feature teams of Northeastern students, including one from her sorority, Kappa Delta.

When Piazza was sick last year, she and others participated in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, raising a total of $20,000 for Team Piazza. At the time, Rizo promised him that she’d raise even more money and get many others involved this year.

“I wanted to keep my promise to him and make sure I did the best I could,” she said.

For more information or to register, email Brittney at

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