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ORANGETOWN, NY — The pandemic forced the cancellation of Tappen Zee High School's annual basketball tournament fundraiser for the Children's Tumor Foundation, so Principal Rudy Arietta took matters into his own hands ... in fact, his whole body.
He's training for an NF Endurance/Choose Your Own Challenge program called "29029 Everest" during which participants hike up a mountain 13 times within 36 hours.
He heads to Utah in August to summit the mountain in Snowbasin. It'll take 13 times to clock 29,029 vertical feet, which is the equivalent of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

The South Orangetown school community has had a connection to the CTF for years. Tappan Zee High School basketball coach George Gaine, whose family is affected by neurofibromatosis, has organized an annual basketball tournament called Two Counties, One Cause that draws teams from Rockland and Westchester. In 2019, its third year, the tournament raised more than $30,000 for CTF.
"The tournament has done a terrific job at raising both money and awareness," Arietta said in a recent interview with CTF.

But it was canceled last season due to all the coronavirus restrictions.
"The year 2020 was a challenge for me just as it was a challenge for everyone. Many of us felt powerless as we had little control over many aspects of our lives," Arietta said in the interview. "However, going through the challenging time was a great reminder that we should focus our energy on the things we can control ... my main motivation was to challenge myself and to come out stronger as a result."
His decision inspired the ninth-graders at TZHS to donate some of the money they raised in a fundraiser for the class. That he was a central character in their fundraiser isn't surprising: they went for the"Tape the Principal to the Wall Challenge."
"I thought it was a cool idea so I said yes," Arietta told CTF. "The event was great. I was taped up for three periods (about 2 hours). The whole student body was really into it. In a year where we have had to cancel a lot of our usual school spirit events, it felt nice to introduce something new that got the kids excited. It was a lot of fun."
The class ended up contributing $100 of the money they raised.
So far for his climb, Arietta has raised $6,642 and hopes to hit $ 20,029. CLICK HERE to support his 29029 Challenge.