It’s been a little over a year since a house fire in Niagara Falls, New York tragically claimed the life of 23-year-old Patrick Romano Jr.a student at Niagara University and before that, a 2016 graduate of Toms River High School East.
Prior to that, the longtime Toms River resident attended Intermediate East and Cedar Grove elementary schools.
In the months that followed, his family and close friends found a way to keep his spirit and memory alive in the local community and beyond by establishing the Patrick Romano Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, a 501(c) ( 3) non-profit charitable organization.
“We give a scholarship to his college, which is Niagara University, and then a scholarship to Toms River High School East,” Michael Gibson, one of his close friends at the nonprofit, told Townsquare Media News. “We plan, in the future, as we receive more funds, to give more scholarships, but also to expand. Patrick was very interested in helping the mentally handicapped, he would go to hockey clinics and would help them learn to play hockey, he would volunteer.”
Gibson said he would like to work with the Brick Stars Challenger Hockey League and continue Patrick’s mission to help these players learn the game of hockey.
“We want to be able to give them equipment or ice time, stuff like that, just to honor him and what he was doing, but keep him alive in his name,” Gibson said.
The Patrick Romano Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund will also be hosting an upcoming fundraising event – “The Big Red Cup” – where they invite you to help celebrate Patrick and have fun, like he always has.
“On July 16 at Winding River (Skating Center, located in Toms River) at noon we will be having a charity hockey game with a giveaway auction, with games, entertainment, live music, food “, said Gibson. “This will be our first Patrick’s Day celebration at Toms River.”
The hockey game will feature players from Toms River skating against players from Niagara University and after the game there will be a family skating session.
“It’s something that brings us together,” Gibson said. “He was the one who always had your back no matter what, he was a good guy who you could always know that if you were in trouble you had him right behind you. When I started playing at hockey my junior year of high school so I had no skills he was the first to take the time to sit down and teach me how to do this and that and he was always the first to wait for you to come out of on the ice. on the ice he was an enforcer, but off the ice he was the sweetest boy you’ve ever met.”