An army remembers Andrew Accardi


“I don’t think he remembers not being sick,” Frank Accardi, father of Andrew Accardi ’11, said. “He was sick for 15 years and could get horrible news, ‘Andrew your cancer came back’ (it happened more than once). He would sit in his room for a while and then he would face the day and choose to go out; his illness didn’t stop him from being the normal teenage boy that he was. It truly amazed me.”

Andrew Accardi was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer at the age of five. Andrew passed away in October of 2013.

He battled his illness with the support of his close circle of friends, which mostly consisted of Staples alumni, Ethan Tassel, Sam Bender, Brett Adelglass, and Matt Labarre. Whenever the group would get together, one recurring subject that they would discuss was where they wanted to be in the future.

“We always thought it would be amazing to work together on something big, something we loved, and something that would change the world for the better,” said Tassel.

However, their aspirations were put on hold in 2012 when Accardi was diagnosed with leukemia on top of his prior tumor, which took a turn for the worst and unfortunately led to his passing in October.

Remarkably within just a few days of his death, the guys found their answer: their life’s charity mission would be devoted to ‘Andrew’s Army’.

Andrew’s Army first took a ferry ride to Nantucket in August of 2007 when Rich Mitarotondo, a close friend of Mr. Accardi’s and  who also battled cancer, decided that Andrew deserved a special day just for him that would also raise funds for Dr. Maris’ Neuroblastoma research efforts at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Over the years, Accardi grew to love Mitarotondo and his wife Maura immensely, simply because they never let the potential success of the organization interfere in any way with what they viewed as the primary objective: for Accardi to enjoy the events that were in his honor and to feel cared for and loved by the people who attended him.

When Mitarotondo passed in 2009, Accardi was deeply affected.

“It is very fair to say that Rich and Maura just got exactly what Andrew was all about and loved him like their own.” Mr. Accardi said.

Accardi was always into sports of all types ranging from football to soccer, all at a competitive level. However, due to the multiple years of his illness, the chemo and radiation affected his growth. Accardi was always small for his age and never exceeded 105 lbs. His ability to keep up with the stamina of the other jocks was indeed a struggle, but one sport in particular stuck with him his whole life: golf.

The very First Annual Andrew ‘s Army Golf event was held at Redding country Club on October 22, 2007. The event was so successful it gathered an “army” of supporters and was the single most profitable one day fundraiser in CHOP’s history, raising 135 thousand dollars.

In response to the event, Accardi told his father that it had been the best day of his life.

In his last days, Accardi’s biggest fear was that he would be forgotten, “He wanted the obstacles that he had encountered throughout his life to have a purpose, and to be remembered as someone who went down fighting but didn’t lose,” Mr. Accardi said.

Since his passing, his friends have been more than dedicated to making Accardi’s goal in life a reality.

“These guys came in with an incredibly creative plan,” Mr. Accardi said. “I never had to ask them to do anything, and if I did, it would be done that day–there was no hesitation.”

Together, they created a facebook page (, to spread the message online and ask for support and donations for Neuroblastoma research. They are also currently in the process of setting up up multiple fundraising event in Westport this summer along with other opportunities to help out the cause, one of which will be hosting fraternity fundraising events at colleges around the country this semester.

“Now that we have found this opportunity with Andrew’s Army, I’m extremely honored to be a part of it and proud to say that I am helping carry out my friend’s legacy by finishing what he started,” Bender ‘11 said.

“I know that he would be proud,” Bender said.

 To contribute to Andrew’s Army and support cancer research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:

• Visit to donate online

• Send checks payable to:

“Andrew’s Army in Support of CHOP”

Maura Mitarotondo

64 Shorefront Park

Norwalk, CT 06854.