Tag Archives: Kenneth Barilari

Wrestling My Toughest Opponent Ever

By Kenneth Barilari

Former Rutgers Prep wrestling star Brett Epps received a kidney donation from Alix Cirigliano, the woman he plans to marry. Kacy Epps, Brett’s younger brother, filmed a documentary chronicling the time before and after the life-saving procedure.

The documentary, titled 5 Ounces, highlights the emotional journey that the transplant had on Brett, Alix, and the entire family. “I wanted the title to be something mysterious, but once you knew what it meant, it made perfect sense,” Epps said. He then told me that five ounces is the average size of a healthy kidney. Mission accomplished.

It has not been an easy journey for the Epps family. Since Brett’s diagnosis two years ago, they have been actively trying to find a perfect match that is able to go through with the surgery. Last year, a match was found. However, due to complications during surgery, the transplant was aborted.

Then, Alix Cirigliano, Brett’s girlfriend at the time, found out that she was a match. The surgery was scheduled, then postponed because Brett’s blood pressure was too high. Brett devised a plan to propose on the day of the newly scheduled surgery. There was another setback, but this did not stop the engagement plan. He proposed in the hospital bed, just as he had planned to do before the procedure was postponed. “There’s no set date yet,” Kacy said. Once the couple gets past recovery, then wedding preparations can begin.

Since the transplant, there have been some bumps in the road. Alix had to go back to the hospital due to complications which have since been resolved. Brett started showing signs that his body was rejecting the kidney, but his medicine was changed and the problems have been solved. He is now allowed to drive and do cardio. “He was able to have his first beer in two years,” Kacy said.

Kacy, a Perth Amboy native, has been interested in film and video production since he was about 9 or 10 years old. He recalls making movies in his backyard. “I love capturing visuals and creating memories,” he said. As time progressed, he started getting more serious. It has since turned into a big hobby.

Kacy says that he doesn’t often plan to film specific projects. Instead, he waits for something to come along and inspire him to create. “I don’t give myself timed deadlines,” he said. “I just do it as it comes to me.”

While this experience has been a roller coaster for the family, Kacy highlights the positives that have come out of it all. “It’s brought us all way closer together. We were a close family to begin with, but this solidified us.” He goes on to say that he has become much closer with his brother’s fiancé, who “has done so much.”

Along with younger brother Cody, Kacy created a Facebook page at the time of Brett’s diagnosis to spread the word that he was looking for a living donor. The page, titled “Wrestling My Toughest Opponent Ever,” has almost 6,000 likes. Check it out to learn more, and watch the documentary above.

#HipNJ Staff Celebrates National Girlfriends Day

By Kenneth Barilari

Today is #NationalGirlfriendsDay, and #HipNJ is here to celebrate. Time to get your girls together and explore everything New Jersey has to offer. Here are some of our staff’s favorite memories spent with our girlfriends in honor of the special day, both in NJ and beyond.

Brianna Cataldo seeing the Yankees with her squad.

We basically only came to eat ~~ besties baseball n beer??⚾️⚾️

A photo posted by @briannacataldo on

Ryan Hickey hits Harrah’s in Atlantic City to celebrate her friend’s 21st.

Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty, and meet me tonight in Atlantic City?

A photo posted by Ryan Hickey? (@ryanniicole) on

Here’s our own Lisa Marie Latino enjoying the view over at Pier 13 in Hoboken with her besties.

#Pi3rPressure #Pier13 #NYC #FreedomTower #Hoboken #ViewGoals #OldSchoolNight #HipNJ

A photo posted by Lisa Marie Latino (@lisamarielatino) on

Lucas Dimini hits the dab before it’s too late.

Before it goes out of style ➰ ΚΔΡ Formal 2K16, who do you know here?

A photo posted by Lucas Dimini (@lucasdimini) on

Katy Kronberg celebrates July 4th with her girlfriends.katyhipnj

Danielle Ryan and her girls take on London.

#takemebackthursday to where new friends were made and adventures were had ?? going through London withdrawal

A photo posted by danielle1194 (@danielle1194) on

Kaitlin Anilonis has some fun in the sun.kaitl

Kenny Barilari braves a blizzard with the help of his friends in this 2013 throwback.kenn

Now, it’s your turn! It’s a holiday, and that calls for a celebration.

#HipNJ Celebrates International Day of Friendship

By Kenneth Barilari

Today is International Day of Friendship, and #HipNJ is here to get you in the spirit! Friends are so important, and surrounding yourself with the right ones can make your life so much happier. Below are some quotes about friendship that will leave you appreciating your friends even more than you already do.
friend2 friend3 friend4 friend5 friend6 friend9 friend10 friend87
Now, call up your bestie and set something up! Don’t be afraid to tell them just how much they mean to you.