Game at Maspeth High raises funds, honors fallen heroes
By Jessica Meditz
Cheers filled the gym at Maspeth High School this past Saturday as members of the community turned out to show their support for first responders.
After last year’s smashing success, the NYPD and FDNY men’s volleyball teams held their annual volleyball game for a second year.
The game is to bring awareness and honor the lives of NYPD and FDNY personnel killed in the line of duty, including Police Officer Adeed Fayaz, Detectives Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera, Firefighters Jesse Gerhard, Timothy Klein, William Moon and EMS Lieutenant Alison Russo-Elling.
It was also a community effort to raise funds for NYPD and FDNY families. Proceeds from the $10 admission ticket and raffle sales went to the Police Benevolent Association and FDNY Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund.
The raffle prizes were all donated by local businesses, including Patrizia’s, Villa Erasmo, Connolly’s Corner, Enchanted Florist & Greenhouse, Oasis Cafe, Cara Mia, Shop & Go Wine & Spirits and Eliot Pizzeria.
Malcolm Brissett-Ortiz, officer at the 77th Precinct and captain of the NYPD volleyball team, organized the event.
“I’m thankful for everyone’s love and support. It’s important we give back to our fallen officers,” Brissett-Ortiz said. “This game is exciting because it’s a lot of fun, and it’s great for morale.”
The afternoon began with a ceremony at 4:30 p.m., featuring the presentation of NYPD and FDNY colors, the National Anthem and a moment of silence for the fallen heroes.
Jerry Matacotta, volleyball coach at Maspeth High School and of the FDNY team, said that the event is intended to be based in community and unity.
“It’s important to get together after a terrible event, recognize the NYPD and FDNY’s work and the heroes that have died this year,” he said. “We wanted to get morale up and help the families.”
The firefighters and police officers on their respective teams are from throughout the city, who have gone on to compete across the country and in the World Police & Fire Games.
Matacotta said they’ll go up to Winnipeg, Canada for this year’s World Police & Fire Games, as well as Battle of the Badges in Massachusetts.
Saturday’s match was played on a best-out-of-five basis, which kept spectators on the edge of their seats.
For the second year in a row, the NYPD reigned victorious – comfortably beating the FDNY 3-1.
They took home a trophy and earned bragging rights once again.
No matter who won or lost, both teams felt a sense of gratitude to see members of the local community so supportive of their work.
“This community supports EMS and the Police and Fire Departments 100 percent. There’s no maybes in this community,” Matacotta said.
“The tradition of the Police and Fire Departments is over 150 years old. It’s not going to end this year, in 50 years, 100 years or 2,000 years from now,” he continued. “People who have served and died for us will always be remembered.”