WEST ORANGE, NJ — On Friday, Sept. 23, Golda Och Academy Lower School students and faculty bid bon voyage to Michael Mault, a member of the school’s security team, who is embarking on a 44-day transatlantic voyage to raise funds for glioblastoma, an illness that took the lives of his mother, brother and dear friend, Angelo Vayas. Mault, a West Orange resident and retired Maplewood police lieutenant, will set sail on board the Europa, a 105-year-old tall ship, as a trainee crewman, crossing the Atlantic and the equator from the Canary Islands to Uruguay, traveling 5,000 nautical miles.
Mault is beloved by all of the students, greeting them in the morning with a “boker tov,” which means good morning in Hebrew, and a tremendous smile; therefore, it was only fitting that he received a special send off. At morning meeting, Lower School Principal Carrie Siegel and program coordinator Gena Jarmel presented Mault with tefilat ha’derech, the traveler’s prayer, in English and Hebrew on a keychain, wishing him a safe journey. In the spirit of tikkun olam, repairing the world, Siegel announced that all of the tzedakah, or charity, collected in classes in October will be donated to Mault’s fundraiser, Sailing for a Solution. The entire school then sang “Shalom Chaverim” and groups of students showered Mault with hugs.
“This was the greatest bon voyage I think anyone could ever ask for,” Mault said in a press release. “The support from the school, faculty, students and parents has been absolutely incredible as it’s been since I started working here five years ago. The school is very special to me as an Irish Catholic who has been embraced by his Jewish brethren. I can’t thank GOA enough; the support has been overwhelming.”
Following the sendoff, Mault had the opportunity to visit the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes to speak about his trip and show them a short video clip to educate students about his mission to help raise funds for glioblastoma research. He also mentioned that it was GOA that encouraged him to“dream big” and set his fundraising goal to $36,000, which is divisible by 18 to symbolize chai, or life. To date, Mault has raised more than $20,000 for Sailing for a Solution, 100 percent of which will be donated to the American Brain Tumor Association.
“I speak for the entire faculty and administration when I say that we could not be more proud of Mike Mault as he embarks on such an honorable mission,” Siegel said in the release. “Mike is a true dugma (or example) of tikkun olam for our students and the larger GOA community. We will miss him while he is away and look forward to his safe return.”
For more information on Sailing for a Solution, visit www.youcaring.com/american-brain-tumor-association-571168.
Photos Courtesy of Erin Sternthal