GET TO KNOW THIS YEARS HONOREES
We have the privledge to honor four individuals who have paved the way in the epilepsy, mental health and overall community to rise above their fears and achieve their goals, despite their circumstances.
Each honoree has exhibited their service and commitment through their career or philanthropy within the Tri-State area, supplying tools and access to obtain a life of courage, leadership, perseverance and success.
Fearless Leader and Advocate for the Mental Health Community
Mary Aruffo is proud to wear many hats! As a passionate educator with over 22 years of experience, Mary Aruffo has taught 2nd, 5th and 6th grades and currently coordinates (10 years+) and continues to teach the Gifted and Talented Program, grades 1-8, for Glassboro Public Schools. She was named not once but TWICE, Teacher of the Year for Glassboro Schools as well!
Mary is a provider of opportunities – not only for the amazing kids that she gets to work with but for ALL students that she comes into contact with. Committed to district and community wide programs that support the positive development of children, Mary has established close working relationships with local partners such as Rowan University and leaders, both in education and in business, across South Jersey, for their commitment to these efforts.
Her passion for family is equally as strong as her love of work – her family means everything to her! Her husband Phil, daughters Stephanie (Mark), granddaughter Briana and daughter Valerie (Tim) along with her extended family, help to keep life busy and filled with opportunities for making memories together. A lover of sports, working out, music, traveling as much as possible and too many more items to list, life is good when all of these worlds collide and the outcome is positive.
Fearless Movement’s Anti-Bullying Campaign kickstarted five years ago, due to Mary speaking up for our founder, Ashley while she was bullied during elementary school. Mary has shown, Ashley and many other students that their voice matters and what we say and do, certainly leaves a mark for eternity on our peers. Thomas E. Bowe School, was one of the first schools Fearless Movement's Anti-Bullying Program served and a school we serve twice-three times a year, consistently - all thanks to Mary Aruffo's support. Along with her efforts in our programs success, she has hosted multiple "Faculty Dress Down Days" to benefit our efforts in furthering epilepsy research.
Mary was chosen as our Leader to honor in representation of the Mental Health community because of all that she continues to do through her career and lifestyle while she empowers students of all ages mentally, physically and scholastically.
Mom, Wife, Educator and Student Advocate.
Photo by Suzi Ryan Photography
Fearless Leader and Advocate for the Overall Community whom battles with Fear
Son, Athlete and Advocate for the Voiceless.
Juwan Johnson graduated High School at Glassboro High school in 2015. After graduating, he attended Penn State University on an athletic scholarship to play football. At PSU, Juwan played in games as prestigious as the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Citrus bowl. He then graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications and minor in theatre.
January of 2019, Juwan transferred to Oregon University for his last year of football and graduate schooling. At Oregon, he was fortunate enough to be apart of a Conference championship and another Rose Bowl game. Now, Juwan is prepping for the NFL combine getting ready to receive a call pretty soon to 1 of 32 teams in the NFL.
Throughout Juwan's life, he has been an avid volunteer in many organizations such as Word on the Street Ministries through theatre productions benefiting local families by gifting food boxes to prevent hunger and fearing financial insecurity. Along with his service efforts, he has volunteered with Fearless Movement since the beginning in 2015, bettering our local epilepsy and mental health communities through our events and campaigns. Most recently, we had the privilege to honor and highlight Juwan Johnson as one of our Fearless Leaders for Black History Month locally and nationally. Juwan shared with our social following the fears and adversity he has overcome as a man of color, and empowered all who are watching to unite on our common ground - fear, seek to understand those who are different from us and have empathy for one another.
Juwan was chosen as our Leader to honor in representation of the overall community, due to how he empowers those from all backgrounds to rise above adversity, fear, to serve others and work hard to achieve your boldest and wildest dreams.
Sydney AND STEPHANIE Spancake
Sydney is an Epilepsy Warrior, Student and Advocate. Stephanie is her mother and biggest advocate along with being a powerful force and leader for those in the Epilepsy Community.
Dynamic Mother-Daughter Duo, Fearless Leaders and Advocates for the Epilepsy Community
Stephanie Nicole Hasbrouck-Spancake was born and raised in Berlin NJ. She graduated from Eastern Regional High School in 1991 and went on to get her BS in communication/public relations from Kean University. During college she did 2 internships with radio stations in their promotions department. However, when graduating she began working in the insurance field and that has been where she stayed. In 2002 Stephanie gave birth to her only child, Sydney Nicole Spancake!
From the start she truly was the apple of her moms’ eye. Sydney began dancing when she was 2 with taking a mommy and me class. From that point on her love for dance has grown - Tap being her favorite of all. In Middle School, Sydney discovered her love for musical theater. She has been in many productions with her theater company, Curtain Call Performing Arts Center. She has played the "Bird Lady" in Mary Poppins, "Lady bug" in James and the Giant Peach along with numerous roles in other shows. She is part of the traveling theater team which performs each year at the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta.
What all seemed like a normal life changed on February 15, 2017. On this day, Stephanie sent Sydney on the bus to go to school and went back home... only to get a knock on the door from one of Sydney’s friends mom, stating that something happened to Sydney on the school bus and she needed to come with her. Sydney had a grand mal seizure on the bus. Of course, this hit the family like a ton of bricks. Sydney was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic epilepsy.
Being a freshman in high school isn’t easy, let alone being diagnosed with epilepsy. Many people would have choice to stay in bed and cry over this however not Sydney. Sydney chooses each day to get up and face life and this diagnoses, head on. Sydney never once wanted the fear of this to get in her way of living life to the fullest. Sydney has continued to work extra hard in school with active grades that have allowed her to get into all 3 universities that she applied to. Along with her school work she has not stopped dancing or performing on stage. Truly, Sydney is an inspiration to all who know her.
Ashley, Sydney and Stephanie met over a year ago after being recommended from Nemours DuPont, in Wilmington, DE to connect with Fearless Movement, in hopes of a mentorship aiding in the transition of now managing a life with epilepsy for Sydney. Since then, their relationship has grown because Sydney and Stephanie see that regardless of your illness, you can still achieve your goals and live a joyful life.
Sydney and her mom work very hard to spread epilepsy awareness and education. Through epilepsy education, they believe that people will be able to rise above fear and achieve their goals, even while battling epilepsy. They have always been very open about Sydney’s diagnoses as this is a part of her life now and there is nothing to hide. Sydney and Stephanie believe if you can share your story and help one person, then it is all worth it.
Both, Stephanie and Sydney Spancake have been chosen as Leaders to honor in representation of the epilepsy community because of their work in being avid advocates for all who battle seizures, fear and of course - epilepsy. Within the past year, Sydney and Stephanie have raised over $1,500 to date to help further epilepsy research and Fearless Movements programs. Recently, Stephanie modeled in our "Strut for Fearless Futures" to combat the fear of not being valued due to societies expectations upon women, and to empower women of all ages and sizes, that to be beautiful is to be you. Sydney volunteered at the event, and is a wonderful representation of what it means to live, fearless - everyday as an Epilepsy Warrior.
Stephanie and Sydney share, "Fearless Movement is amazing. It not only helps people in the epilepsy community but it helps everyone out there who battles with fear. We are so very proud to be involved in this and I believe that any one who attends this Gala, will realize this is something that they too should get involved more with."