By Mitchell Krugel, Karen Jenkins and Rosemary An

Our commemorative issue is all about 10 for you: A retrospective of how the PBA and its members have made 10 years of NJ Cops as the union’s official publication so memorable.

And so with this 10th anniversary, we celebrate “A Perfect 10” of getting the message out. Of showcasing the unmeasurable efforts to protect and serve members put forth every hour. Of providing information that can support and improve working conditions. Of providing information that can help New Jersey cops on and off the job.

To commemorate this anniversary, the forthcoming pages present “Perfect 10” lists of some of the stories that have made NJ Cops Magazine a privilege to present and have created a reliable vehicle for members to get the media attention they so richly deserve and don’t otherwise get from the mainstream news folks.

The Perfect 10 lists could never be all-inclusive or a 10 best because the best stories are the ones that mean the most to members. And hopefully, every PBA member has more than a few favorites. The ones presented in the following pages are meant to be a cross-section of those that showcase your work, your efforts, your passion. And that you can always count on these stories to be published here.

The Covers

The 10-year run has produced 120 covers. How do you select the perfect 10 when so many showcase the greatest hits of the PBA, its members and the law enforcement profession?

So here are two sets of 10.

From riding along with Trenton members to members going all-out in fundraising – and showing their athletic prowess – to dramatic moments to moments of remembrance, the first 10 and the second 10 capture present the courage, honor, integrity and the ability to change lives of the union and its members. Scenes from National Police Week and Special Olympics events also highlight the amazing work of photographer extraordinaire Ed Carattini Jr., your Verona Local 72 State Delegate.

With a “Thin Pink Line” honoring members who are breast cancer survivors and tributes to the success of the PBA’s political action, this tour includes the Police Unity Tour, great events like PBA Day in Trenton and the annual PBA Toy Drive and, of course, the work of members on the front lines. Of all the covers, which one is the best? Well, ask 120 PBA members and you might get 120 answers.

That’s what has made it such a wonderful 10 years.

 

First 10

Second 10

The Cover Stories

Of the 120 cover stories during the past 10 years, we have covered great PBA events, saluted officers lost in the line of duty, honored members for outstanding service, spotlighted some of the important trends in law enforcement and labor and tried to offer informative, timely and engaging reads.

Picking 10 that represent the mission of NJ Cops Magazine to be the voice of New Jersey Law Enforcement and a reliable vehicle for the PBA to get is message to members might have been easier using a dart board. In the end, this set of 10 is a list that bullseyes stories that have made a difference for members and readers.

The Big Stories

Through the decade, the tenacity and resilience of PBA members have led them to advocate for legislation, honor fallen brothers and sisters, strengthen union representation and even to perform the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of providing security to the Pope.

Tour through a gut-wrenching visit to the NJ Police Officers Memorial, an inspired rally for Sandy Hook victims, the painstaking journey to Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) independence and more in some of the most rousing stories from the past 10 years.

Of the dozens of stories that the NJ Cops Magazine team considered the best of the rest, here are some that truly changed the landscape of the union, its members and the policing they do.

9-11-11

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Locals across the state unified in a day to remember that featured the Renegade Pigs Motorcycle Club riding from Clifton to North Arlington in memory of one their own, Port Authority Local 116 member Paul Laszczynski. Fort Lee Local 245 members also helped dedicate the town’s memorial built from World Trade Center steel.

A super Sunday

All New Jerseyans can boast that Super Bowl XLVIII took place in their home state in February 2014, but East Rutherford Local 275 members worked the biggest game of the year.

Not on our turf

Former Governor Chris Christie scheduled a town hall meeting on a sacred playground on July 22, 2014, and PBA members, firefighters and teachers showed up to protect their turf. They stood up to the governor’s disdain for law enforcement on a playground built by public servants that stands as a tribute to Lauren Rousseau, a teacher killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Papal security detail

Members secured interstate arteries for the Pope’s 2015 U.S. tour, with stops in New York City and Philadelphia from Sept. 22 to Sept. 27. The visit was designated as a National Special Security Event by the Department of Homeland Security, making it a federal endeavor that included Secret Service collaboration.

Chief for a day

Bergen County Sheriff and former State PBA Executive Board member Michael Saudino yielded his title to 5-year-old Chief for a Day Justin Pagan on June 3, 2016 as part of a countywide program for children battling chronic conditions.

Great day for the PBA

More than 500 PBA members took a vacation day to be part of the NJ State PBA Day at the State Legislature in Trenton on March 3, 2016. The monumental day gave members the chance to show their faces to their representatives and enhanced the PBA’s relationship with legislators.

Mallory’s Army melts the ice

The NJSPBA hockey team honored Mallory’s Army in the annual rivalry game against the NJ State Police on Dec. 29, 2017. The event started an annual fundraiser for 12-year-old Mallory Grossman, a tragic victim of cyberbullying.

Remembering the fallen

The 34th year of the New Jersey Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service brought PBA members to Ocean Grove on May 22, 2018. The service annually remembers New Jersey officers lost in the line of duty, and each one of their names is printed on placards and set on rows and rows of empty chairs.

Independence Day

This was actually July 3, 2018, when NJSPBA President Pat Colligan, Executive Vice President Marc Kovar and other members of New Jersey public safety unions watched Governor Phil Murphy sign a historic bill that made the PFRS independent from state control.

Healthy alliance

The inaugural NJ State PBA and New Jersey Doctor-Patient Alliance (DPA) golf outing on Sept. 16, 2019 allowed law enforcement officers and medical professionals to raise nearly $100,000 for the PBA’s Survivor and Welfare Fund.

The Locals Stories

They call it a signature event. An annual turkey giveaway in Passaic. The Pension Pig Roast the Monmouth County Conference hosts in honor of a certain PBA president.

PBA Locals crush it when it comes to signature events — fundraisers, events to honor fallen members and outreach that profoundly impacts the community. Members are constantly looking for ways to do more than protect the streets, especially to help other individuals and families.

Here are 10 perfect examples of how Locals fulfill their passion to serve as much as protect.

Monument man

Essex County Sheriff’s Officers Local 183 honored member Jorge Oliveira, who was killed while serving his country in Afghanistan in October 2011, with the unveiling of Staff Sergeant Jorge Oliveira Plaza in Newark’s Essex County Veterans Memorial Park in November 2011.

For Mary Ann

Fair Lawn Local 67 — and the rest of the PBA — honored member Mary Ann Collura on the 10th anniversary of her being lost in the line of duty by unveiling a memorial statue at the Fair Lawn Borough Hall in April 2013.

One-two punch

Passaic County Corrections Local 197 hosted a Public Safety charity boxing event with nine bouts matching members in 2014. The event supported the PBA Survivor and Welfare Fund and Jayden’s Journey, a fund for 13-year-old Jayden Singer, who survived severe brain trauma.

Angels for Jay

In 2015, Ocean County Sheriff’s Officers Local 379 and other Locals worked with the Where Angels Play Foundation to dedicate a playground in memory of fallen member Jay Marles, who lost his life in a motor vehicle accident, five years after his death.

Getting piggy with it

When the former New Jersey governor called NJ State PBA President Pat Colligan a “pension pig,” Monmouth County Conference turned it into a pig roast fundraiser that generated $25,000 in the first two years to benefit the NJSPBA Survivor & Welfare Fund.

Toy story

Northern Local 233 spearheaded Santa’s Response Team as part of the Bergen County Toy Drive, where members of more than 50 agencies provided 300 military families, 40 charitable organizations and nearly every hospital in Bergen County with gifts and special holiday requests.

Remembering our brother

Members of Mercer County Sheriff’s Officers Local 187 presented Pablo Santiago’s wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Ava, with a donation raised from selling 400 bracelets inscribed with Pablo’s name and badge number in honor of their lost brother in February 2019.

Walk with us

Belleville Local 28 members bolstered the department’s community policing success on Walk to School Day in February 2019 by meeting students at designated spots and walking them to school, naturally forming connections with them along the way.

Turkey giving

Passaic Local 14 partnered with the NJSPBA and NJ State Troopers NCOA in November 2019 to distribute 500 turkeys and pies to citizens who otherwise would not have been able to put food on their Thanksgiving tables.

Ray of light

Cranford Local 52 led a fundraiser for the wake and mass of Raymond Schwartz, a 15-year-old who was named an honorary Cranford officer after his fourth operation during treatment for glioblastoma. Ray passed away in February 2019 following a 15-month battle with the rare form of brain cancer.

The Valor Awards Stories

A career highlight for any PBA member is earning a Valor Award.

At its annual Valor Awards, the NJSPBA hands out nearly 30 awards that recognize upwards of 100 members for their bravery, service, professionalism and overall excellence. So do the math on how many awards and members that has included during the past 10 years.

Some of these stories are almost unbelievable. Members stopping mass shootings, school shootings and violent criminals armed with unimaginable intent and weapons. Defusing hostage situations. Rescuing kids, disabled people, seniors and the like from fires, oceans and other life-threatening situations. Putting their own lives at risk every day for the greater good.

Looking for a definition of valor? Look right here at 10 examples from the hundreds chronicled the past 10 years that confirm valor is a way of doing the job for PBA members.

The Valor Awards is always a memorable photo op for family members of award winners.

A child’s best friend: On July 3, 2014, New Brunswick Local 23 members Michael Phommathep, James Hoover, Kevin Conway and Raymond Hansen raced to rescue a 4-year-old girl being attacked by pit bulls. After removing the threat, Hoover used his uniform shirt to wrap around the child’s head to stop the bleeding. The swift action saved her life.

Donor honor: The 2015 Valor Awards presented one of the most heartwarming stories ever when Vineland Local 266 member Domenic Ferrari received a Lifesaving Award for donating a kidney to Local brother Fred Demary. Both members attended and hugged each other tightly, celebrating Demary returning to work eight months after the kidney replacement.

Saving a brother: In October 2015, Hackensack Local 9 member Mohammad Sheikh accompanied two other detectives from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office to perform a search for a man wanted for homicide. While sweeping a dark room, a suspect grabbed one of the officers and held a knife to his head. Sheikh fired a round that caused the suspect to release the detective.

A real wife-saver: In July 2015, longtime West New York Local 361 State Delegate was on a Sunday afternoon drive with his with and two daughters when, with no warning, he went into cardiac arrest. Knowing that death could have come in minutes, his wife, West New York Lieutenant Monica Ramos, managed to shift the car into park, called for an ambulance and began CPR. Moments later, Officer Jorge Salgado arrived and took over compressions and three jolts with a defibrillator revived Ramos.

The legacy of a family hero: On June 6, 2016, James Clarke and his wife were sitting in the sand in front of their beach house when they realized that boys swimming in the ocean were struggling to return to the shoreline. One of the boys stuck in the powerful riptide was their son. James ran to the beach and pulled each of the boys to safety before collapsing to the sand. He was lost on that day, and to honor him Long Beach Township Local 273 presented his family with a Civilian Gold Medal of Valor.

When off-duty calls: Bellmawr Local 375 member Christopher Cummings brought his kids to Atlantic City on the Thursday before Labor Day in 2016. They were shopping at the Tanger outlets – the area known as “The Walk” – when Cummings walked into a store and encountered a man with a gun in his hand who had shot another man and then turned the gun on himself. After securing his family, Cummings immediately advanced on the man and wrestled the firearm from his possession.

Saved by the cell: On April 7, 2017, Mercer County Corrections Local 167 member Jippey Creighton found an inmate with deep lateral cuts in both wrists. When Officer Dominique Connors arrived at the cell, she found Creighton rushing to stop the victim’s bleeding by using bed linens as a makeshift tourniquet. She quickly took hold of the victim’s other wrist and their actions saved his life.

Girl Power: The 2018 Valor Awards celebrated the meritorious service of two female officers who didn’t back down. Neptune Local 74 member Dominique Russo chased down a suspect who had been pointing a gun at a group of people. Russo pursued the man who was a foot taller than her into the backyard of a residence and ran him down. Plainfield Local 19 member Omnya Alahwol was dispatched to the scene of a man being assaulted with a hammer and fearlessly sprang out of her patrol car to give chase. Alahwol spotted a shotgun in the attacker’s waistband, and despite him towering over her, drew her weapon and got him to drop his gun and back down.

An “All Night” celebration: Eleven Trenton Local 11 members were honored with a Gold Medal of Valor and a meritorious service award for their historic response to the 12th Annual Art All Night Festival mass shooting in June 2018. Officers Matthew Bledsoe and Robert Furman and Detectives Eliezer Ramos and Michael Cipriano led the response that resulted in one of the largest mass shootings in the history of the state of New Jersey left not having to suffer with any innocent civilians being killed.

School safety: Columbine. Sandy Hook. Marjory Stoneman Douglas. No chance Tamaques School in Westfield was going to make that list on June 13, 2019 with this team of five officers and two detectives from Westfield Local 90 deploying a well-detailed active shooter response disarmed a man who was parked near the school armed with a handgun. Officer Jeff Johnson, Westfield’s active shooter instructor, led the response that included Officers Joseph Habeiche. Elizabeth Savnik and Tiffany Kenny and Detectives Nicholas Bruno and Jason Merritt.

The NJSPBA Valor Awards Committee also goes above and beyond to create an extraordinary event.

The Conventions Stories

From presentations about going undercover in a notorious biker gang, to the tale of coming back from fourth-degree burns, to stopping domestic terror threats and mass shootings, the NSJPBA Mini Conventions and Main Conventions never fail to bring jaw-dropping tales of law enforcement fervor to the forefront.

With hundreds of riveting speakers from the past decade of conventions who also address issues important to furthering union efforts, here are a perfect 10 of convention presentations that augment the virtue of all NJSPBA conventions.

Never a doubt

Gary Spath recounted his story at the 2016 Mini Convention about surviving the attacks and the trials following his fatal shooting of a 16-year-old youth in Teaneck, where he served as an officer and Local 215 member for 10 years.

Holding onto hope

Port Authority Local 116 member Will Jimeno spoke at the 2017 Mini Convention about holding on while buried 30 feet under the rubble of a skyscraper following the 9/11 attacks. Jimeno’s experience was chronicled in the Oliver Stone movie, “World Trade Center.”

Crisis leadership lessons

Former Boston PD Superintendent-in-Chief Daniel Linskey recounted the hunt for the Boston Marathon bomber and stressed the necessity of response in terrorist attack training at the 2017 Mini Convention.

Mallory’s Army

Local members across the state made a commitment to blue-out bullying at the 2018 Mini Convention after a stirring presentation from Dianne Grossman, the mother of 12-year-old Mallory Grossman, who suffered cyberbullying that caused her to take her own life.

Political action

Political campaign expert Hank Sheinkopf called for a revolt by NJ State PBA members at the 2014 Main Convention in Orlando, Florida. The wake-up call ignited the PBA’s political action that has made a significant impact on the union and members.

Ovation of a lifetime

Trooper Bobby Smith spent two hours preaching to Main Convention attendees on Sept. 16, 2016 about a critical incident that left him living in blindness for 33 years. Smith passed away on Oct. 2, 2016, just weeks after imparting his wisdom that will remain eternal.

Let it strengthen you

Phoenix Detective Jason Schechterle was broadsided by a taxi driver suffering an epileptic seizure at 115 miles per hour, causing his vehicle to burst into flames on March 26, 2001. Schechterle received fourth-degree burns. He lived to tell his life lessons of perseverance at the 2016 Main Convention.

Las Vegas mass shooting

At the 2018 Main Convention, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Officer Yasenia Yatomi shared the harrowing details of the response to the Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017.

Never-ending fight

At the 2018 Mini, Philadelphia Police Officer Jesse Hartnett recounted surviving an assassination attempt by a midnight shooter as an alleged expression of loyalty to ISIS on Jan. 7, 2016.

Austin bomber

A step-by-step presentation at the 2019 Main Convention by Detectives Rolando Ramirez and Richard Mabe tracked the inner workings of the 2018 domestic bombing investigation in Austin, Texas. The suspect detonated a series of packaged explosives around the city before dying by suicide.

The Police Week Stories

Seeing the hallowed walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, hearing names called at the Candlelight Vigil and honoring the nation’s Top Cops as chosen by the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) generate some of the most important stories in all of law enforcement.

Here are 10 that truly capture what Police Week means and why every PBA member should attend.

Wall for you

You never forget your first visit to National Police Week, and this 2011 tour of the walls at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial showed how memorable it is. Seeing the mementos that loved ones leave for their fallen reminds that this is a celebration of how law enforcement takes care of its own.

Corrections correction

In 2013, then-State Corrections Local 105 member Wayne Sanderson procured permission from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to have the names of nine State Corrections officers who died in the line of duty added to the wall. Through genealogical research, Sanderson found officers who served between 1896 and 1954 that were lost in the line of duty.

Top honor

In 2014, Trenton Detective James Letts expressed how he, fellow Detective Edgar Rios and Mercer County Sheriff’s felt like they were living a dream when being honored as NAPO Top Cops alongside officers who hunted down the Boston Marathon bomber.

The vigil

Illustrious evidence of the Candlelight Vigil’s healing power came in 2016 when Lacey Township Dispatcher Dawn Stephens was there to hear the name of her husband, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Local 171 member John Scott Stephens, who was killed in an automobile accident on Jan. 21, 2015. PBA members from across the state stopped to hug Dawn to turn her tears into a celebration of her husband’s life.

Let there be light

In 2015, NJSPBA President Pat Colligan had the honor for the first time of reading names of fallen officers from New Jersey during the Candlelight Vigil. And when the thin blue line of laser line beamed out from that same podium, the president noted, “I wish it were a requirement for everybody who pins on their badge to see this.”

Magic bus ride

Each April, the NJSPA sponsors a bus trip for Garden State Concerns of Police Survivors to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The photo of New Jersey survivors taken during this 2016 excursion, saying “Thank U PBA” expresses how much it means.

Remembrance

Posting a motorcycle faring with a likeness of Paterson Officer Tamby Yagan where his name was added to the Memorial in 2019, culminated how Local 1 members honored their brother who was lost in a traffic accident a year earlier. And showed that Police Week confirms that sisters and brothers will never forget.

Best of the best

Linden Local 42 members Angel Padilla Jr., Peter Hammer Jr., Mark Kahana, Daniel Diaz and David Guzman received many honors and accolades for capturing the Chelsea bomber in 2017. But none meant as much as being honored by their own as NAPO Top Cops.

Life saver

Atlantic City Local 24 member Thomas McCabe explained what a Top Cop really does. He and partner Josh Vadell were honored in 2018 for the incident in which Vadell took a bullet to his head. Had it not been for McCabe’s quick action, his best friend would have become a name on the Memorial Wall.

9/11 hero

Montclair State University Campus Police Sergeant and State Campus Police Local 278 member Christopher Vidro was the last responder to cross the bridge following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. Vidro contracted cancer from the response and passed away in 2007. Eleven years later his name was finally called at the Candlelight Vigil.

The Police Unity Tour Stories

What started with 18 riders on a four-day fundraising bicycle ride in 1997 from Florham Park to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. has grown into nearly 2,600 members nationwide making the annual trip. Every mile tells a unique story of a fallen officer and a survivor honoring his or her legacy.

Remember these perfect 10 awe-inspiring stories of riding for those who died.

Wieners’ final ride

A few weeks before his retirement, NJSPBA past President Tony Wieners had the honor of leading the pack in the memorial to open Police Week 2014.

Honoring Joe Franklin

Retired Roxbury Township Lieutenant Joe Franklin, a longtime Tour participant, died from injuries sustained in a crash during the first full day of the Tour on May 10, 2016. Members wrote his former badge number — 28 — on their calves to finish the ride and have been doing so every year since.

Original wheels

Police Unity Tour founder Pat Montuore was one of the 18 riders in the 1997 Unity Tour ride, and for the event’s 20th anniversary in 2016, he dusted off his original bike to lead the 2,000-plus contingent into the Memorial.

Riding for one who lived

In 2017, Atlantic City Local 24 members rode in honor of one less name on the wall. Joshlee Vadell was shot in the head during a response on Sept. 3, 2016 and survived the catastrophic injury. He was in attendance to cheer on the Local.

The flag guy

Scott Haigh has handed out miniature flags in cities and towns every year throughout the route in honor of his father, Ronald Haigh, a member of Rockaway Township Local 287 who passed away from a heart attack in 2004.

Daughter of the fallen

Fifteen-year-old Adria McMeekin reunited with Atlantic City Local 24 members in 2018. Adria has posted letters to her father, Local 24 member Thomas McMeekin who was lost in the line of duty on March 4, 2005, at the Memorial wall every year since she learned how to write.

Solidarity ride

For his 11th Tour in 2018, Sussex County Corrections Local 378 member John Bannon donned a bracelet with the name “John Bannon” on it, honoring an NYPD officer who passed away in 1966 — the year after Bannon was born.

For her father

Survivor Anna Miglio, a state correctional police officer, rode for her father, Wildwood Crest Police Department Officer Eugene Miglio, who was lost in the line of duty in 1995.

An Air Force reunion

Retired Upper Saddle River Local 218 member Emmitt Matel, Edison Local 75 member Dave Tingle, Gloucester County Local 122 member Rich Hanratty and Len Warner of the Mount Laurel Police Department — a quad that served together in the reserves at McGuire Air Force Base — reunited to ride the 2018 Tour together.

A mother of a ride

The 2019 Unity Tour fell on Mother’s Day, providing the perfect celebration for Howell Local 228 member Maureen McBride. As she completed her tour, McBride was greeted by cheers from her husband and three children, waiting for her at the Memorial.

The Job Well Done Stories

From rescuing residents trapped in fires to stopping a terrorist to preventing a suicide, PBA members seem to go above and beyond the call of duty every day. From so many “Jobs Well Done,” here are examples of how nobody does it better than PBA members.

 

 

A leg up: Atlantic City Local 24 member Mike Braxton, who was injured in an off-duty motorcycle accident that resulted in the lower left portion of his leg being amputated in 2013, returned to work in June 2014 to a standing ovation from other members and pledged to work on inspiring other amputees.

 

 

For Matlosz: Spotswood Local 225’s Michael Zarro, Sayreville Local 98’s Douglas Sprague and Middlesex County Sheriff’s Local 165’s Luis Fajardo hiked Mount Washington in June 2012 to plant a banner honoring Christopher Matlosz, the Lakewood Local 71 member who was lost in the line of duty in 2011.

 

Call for help: After mistakenly receiving an email from across international waters in April 2016, Verona Chief Mitchell Stern prevented a young girl in Italy from committing suicide by contacting the Italian embassy in New York, then Interpol, to get help for the girl in a matter of 20 minutes.

 

Safe travels: Perth Amboy Local 13 member Lindsey DeJesus, who received a call about a disabled mother and her son stranded without a car or money, paid out of pocket for a 30-minute Uber ride to get them safely home to Monmouth County in November 2019.

 

Burning up: Ewing Township Local 111 members Mike Pellegrino, Jim Caldwell and Fred Dow pulled an 81-year-old woman with a broken leg and her epileptic son out of a burning car in February 2012.

 

Autism awareness: In 2019, a missing persons call came from 12-year-old Ryan Paul, who has autism spectrum disorder. He could not locate his beloved teddy bear. Woodbridge Local 38 member Khari Manzini responded and used his autism awareness training to help Ryan through the ordeal.

 

 

Stop the terror: In November 2011, Essex County Corrections Local 382 member Eric Schwartz stopped a suspicious woman outside the department’s parking lot who turned out to be wanted by the FBI for questioning in different terrorist acts.

 

Officer for a day: Verona Local 72 members surprised 4-year-old Micco LaRosa, who has a rare genetic disease and loves police, along with his older brother Leo, by swearing them in as deputies for a day in February 2019.

 

 

Break your fall: Three Mahwah Local 143 members caught 9-year-old Sofiya Doroshenko jumping about 25 feet from a burning third-floor apartment balcony in February 2016 and praised her as the real hero for being brave enough to jump.

 

Oh, baby: After responding to a call about a woman in labor in a parked vehicle, Cranford Local 52 members Matthew Nazzaro, Frank Williams, Robert Jordan and Michael Dubitsky successfully delivered Adam Ramos in August 2012.

 

The Special Olympics Stories

With members like George Duffy plunging at the Polar Bear Plunge since the very beginning; like Todd Smith participating in the Plane Pull for his son, an SONJ athlete; like the Ocean County Pigskins team winning the Snow Bowl with none other than renowned Olympian Eric Kish, members from every Local raise hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for Special Olympics.

Members are dedicated to SONJ’s mission of bringing pride into the lives of children and adults with disabilities through athletic competition. PBA members have proven that if there is anything that they will get together for it is Special Olympics, and here is a perfect 10 list of stories that illustrate their commitment to the cause:

Dressing the part

Bay Head-Mantoloking Local 347 member George Duffy started participating in the Polar Bear Plunge in 1993 and adds a year to his pre-plunge robe every year.

Streaking

Northern Valley Local 233 members have multiple streaks for the Polar Bear Plunge, not only with members like Dennis Kane plunging since 1993 and Mike Graham since 1998, but also with their team dressing up in costumes like wrestlers, Mardi Gras revelers and dodgeball players in recent years.

Styling

Middlesex County Sheriff’s Local 165 members always arrive to the Polar Bear Plunge in style — they dressed as Disney characters in 2020 and pro wrestlers in 2019, and they wore rompers in 2018 and Speedos in 2017.

Tens of thousands

Rumson Local 345 Chief Scott Paterson raised $34,563 in Polar Bear Plunge donations in 2020.

Family affair

Freehold Township Local 209 member Todd Smith participates in the annual Plane Pull at Newark Liberty International Airport as a volunteer for and with his son, Jake, a SONJ athlete.

Honoring the fallen

Toms River Local 137’s team of 20 officers emerged victorious at the 2017 Plane Pull after pulling a 93,000-pound United 737 aircraft in honor of fallen officer Brett Hansen, who passed away the day before the event.

Triple crown

West Essex Local 81’s Fairfield’s Finest team unofficially won a triple crown at the 2018 Plane Pull, coming in first place for all three phases: fastest pull at 6.96 seconds, lowest combined weight at 1,292 pounds and total money raised.

Victory at last

The Ocean County Pigskins, a mix of talent from five Locals, is the home team for Spotswood resident Kish. He was their x-factor in taking home a Snow Bowl championship for the first time in 2019.

For Moe

The Passaic Local 14 Gladiators, a perennial at the Snow Bowl, scored a 2019 divisional game victory and gave a get-well-soon shoutout to the Local’s President, Moe Farallo, who had undergone triple bypass surgery a few days earlier.

It gets competitive, too

Spotswood Local 225 member Adam Sabatino shows the whatever-it-takes spirit of playing for Special Olympics by wearing wrist bands with color-coded play cards. Special Olympics events brings out the members’ fundraising passion and competitive spirit.