Karla Ver Bryck Block and Joan Cantarelli spend every weekend during the summer sharing a pool deck and sometimes a stopwatch. Cantarelli, whose two children, Nicole and A.J., swim for Springboard of the Northern Virginia Swim League, volunteers as a timer. Ver Bryck Block coaches the team.
That's why when the District 12 coaches met on Wednesday, July 22 to discuss seedings for that Saturday's divisional meet, Ver Bryck Block had special instructions for her peers: Nobody, under any circumstance, was to let Cantarelli know about the plan she was about to unveil.
The plan that Ver Bryck Block set forth that night involved a pair of 50-50 raffles to benefit Cantarelli and her family, who had lost a portion of their home in the Charleston neighborhood of Springfield near Forestdale Elementary School when a fire started Tuesday morning and ravaged most of their kitchen and master bedroom.
Ver Bryck Block also said that Springboard would take donations, Target gift cards and anything else someone was willing to contribute to help the Cantarelli family deal with the situation.
“The NVSL is family,” said Ver Bryck Block, on Saturday morning. “Every pool is its own family. Every division is its own family. They're part of the swimming family and everybody wants to contribute something to them.”
Cantarelli was so overwhelmed when she found out about the raffles on Saturday morning that she could hardly speak. The effort, though, meant everything to her and she was completely blown away by the support.
“It's just an incredible, generous show of kindness,” said Cantarelli, who declined to have her family photographed for this story, with the insistence that there are greater tragedies in the world. “I'm just humbled by the generosity of the NVSL and our division.”
At the end of the day on Saturday, the teams from Division 12 raised more than $650 for the Cantarelli family.
“They keep saying, 'We're OK, we have insurance,' but people feel the need to help them,” Ver Bryck Block said. “There was not a question about doing it.”