Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Devils' Own

On the sixteenth of July, Jersey City Police Officer Mark Anthony DiNardo was shot while involved in a gunfight with armed robbery suspects. Five days later, Officer DiNardo died from his injuries. In death, the 37 year-old, 1o-year veteran of the JCPD left behind a young widow, Mary, and three children four years old and younger (Gwendolyn, 4, Marc Anthony II, 3, and Ella, 1).

On the thirteenth of December, a team of alumni members of the New Jersey Devils and a teams of members of the JCPD got together at the Devils' home arena in Newark to do something to add just a pinch of Christmas cheer to the Dinardos' home this year. The two squads played each other in a game christened the Police Officer Marc Anthony DiNardo Memorial Hockey Game. 3,000 fans paid to watch the game. The contest raised $60,000 for a most worthy of causes: a memorial scholarship fund that has been established for the three babies (please do not tell Ms. Gwendolyn and young Master Marc Anthony II that some jackass they shall never meet called them both "babies". I meant it as the highest of compliments.) who shall be required to navigate the rapids ride that is life without the hands-on involvement of their Dad.

I know not at what age a child starts to form memories. I leave all of that hard science stuff to the truly gifted (like Suzanne who continues to pursue advanced degrees in disciplines that her dopey old man can barely pronounce and that I have no hope of ever comprehending). I know not what memories of their dad each of the three little DiNardos shall carry with them. But I hope that among them is the memory of all that happened on Sunday at the Rock. Their father was a man who apparently touched the lives of many others. And on Sunday a number of folks returned the favor.

This is going to be an excruciatingly tough Christmas in the DiNardo household. But maybe, just maybe, it will not be as brutal as one might have anticipated. Kudos to Officer DiNardo's brothers in arms and the Devils for bringing just a little bit of the spirit of the season into the life of his wife and children.


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