Charlie Reilly’s life is filled with self-driven success that he's using to help others in need.
The Fordham Prep senior has raised $67,000 for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., raising more money for the organization than any other high school student in the country.
The parishioner of Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Our Lady in Tuckahoe collected the funds in several ways: sending an email blast to Fordham Prep students and faculty, knocking on doors and handing out fliers at the Bronxville train station to people heading to work in Manhattan.
“I did everything possible to get the word out about St. Jude,” he said. “Once the ball was rolling, it just kept going.”
Charlie, 18, said his grandmother, Ann Reilly, has been an advocate of St. Jude and his mother, Patricia Reilly, has done fundraising for St. Jude. He also watched videos from St. Jude that touched his heart and wanted to do more for the children.
Last year, Charlie was selected to serve as a member of the St. Jude Leadership Society, which is a group of students from across the country seeking to raise awareness of St. Jude. This year, he’s a peer adviser for St. Jude.
“Every penny goes to the kids,” he said. “It was really cool. I did a virtual tour and saw the playrooms. It does not look like a hospital now. They make it feel like home for the kids.
“I wanted to make sure these kids feel like they’re still loved and they don’t feel like they’re dying. They feel every day is a new day and they’re happy to wake up and be at St. Jude.”
For his efforts on behalf of St. Jude’s, Charlie was invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Cape Canaveral in Florida in September to see the launch of SpaceX’s first all-civilian spaceflight. He met U.S. Space Force Brigadier General Stephen Purdy.
“It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I will never forget it,” he said. “I was about three miles away from the rocket. I felt that whole explosion go through my body.”
Charlie is the fourth of five children to Charles and Patricia Reilly. He’s currently living with his grandparents, Bernard and Ann Reilly, in the Bronx.
Charlie attended Eastchester Middle School before beginning his studies at Fordham Prep, where he’s taking Advanced Placement courses and is a member of the volleyball, crew and squash teams.
“Fordham Prep was a big step for me, going from Eastchester Middle School,” he said. “Fordham Prep always had that reputation of being academically rigorous, having great sports teams and having a great alumni network.
“It was really an easy choice for me to just take that big step and go to Fordham Prep. Every year has been a challenge academically. They always challenge you in every way. You have to do a certain number of service hours every year.
“Every aspect of Fordham Prep has prepared me for what’s to come next in college or just helped me have the knack for fundraising and helping others.”
Joseph Petriello, the principal of Fordham Prep, is also a graduate of the school, which has 945 students and 222 members of its senior class.
“What’s impressive about Charlie is his self-starting nature, his drive and his initiative,” Petriello said. “He’s an impressive young man and we’re very proud of him at Fordham Prep.”
Charlie is hopeful of being accepted to study at either the Air Force Academy to pursue a career in the Space Force or the United States Military Academy to work toward a career as a U.S. Army intelligence officer.
Basic training at both academies will begin right after Charlie’s graduation from Fordham Prep.
“It would be a huge honor to be offered an appointment to either academy,” he said.
Charlie also is planning to continue his work for St. Jude.
“In college, I hope to start a club or a chapter for St. Jude because the St. Jude Leadership Society goes through college. I hope to continue my fundraising,” he said.
https://fundraising.stjude.org/ and search for Charles Reilly under find a participant.