Bradley Beach Local 50 members bring multiple agencies together to rally behind a six-year-old battling a rare disease
By Esther Gonzales
Wide eyed, six-year-old Jaxon Fuge smiled in complete surprise when the Bradley Beach police cruiser drove into a parking lot in Avon on March 2. Police vehicles from almost every agency in Monmouth County surrounded the lot. Bradley Beach Local 50 member Greg Pancza watched in amusement as Jaxon darted back and forth between the cars, trucks and motors.
Pancza felt humbled to see almost 50 different agencies all come together, all for this six-year-old who was battling a rare genetic disease and had a dream of becoming a police officer.
“He kept saying it was the happiest day of his life,” Pancza said. “I know that in times of need or events such as this, when we have a member of the community that really is in need or sick, as usual I didn’t expect anything less. The PBA and the rest of the departments really stepped up.”
Earlier, Local 50 members brought Jaxon and his family on a tour through the station, where they saw the Bradley Beach K-9 Unit. And they presented Jaxon with a patch to add to his ever-growing collection.
Then they gave Jaxon a ride in one of their cruisers and brought him to the scene that was waiting for him.
“It was probably an overwhelming experience, because they weren’t expecting it,” Pancza said. “Jaxon and his family had no idea that we were going to have as many pieces of apparatus from throughout the county as possible.”
Right away, Jaxon’s family expressed their immense gratitude to the members.
“We were thanked over and over again,” Pancza related. “It was just tremendous that we were able to do this for Jaxon. He just kept bouncing back and forth, and he hopped on a police motorcycle. The sky was the limit.”
Local 50 member Bill Major first heard about Jaxon from his friend’s podcast, which featured Jaxon. Major remembers Jaxon detailing his love for police officers and how he collects patches from departments across the state.
In 2020, Jaxon was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1, which causes brain tumors. To bring him strength, he had the idea to collect as many police patches as possible and create a cape from them to wear at the hospital.
At first, Major posted on social media, and after he successfully received patches, he decided he wanted to do more. When he mentioned the idea to Pancza, they decided they didn’t just want to give him a tour of the station.
“We collectively decided that we wanted to go a little bit bigger than that and really make a huge, impacting event for Jaxon,” Pancza explained.
After sending a message to all the departments in Monmouth County explaining the event they wanted to host for Jaxon, text messages, phone calls and emails flooded in right away. Almost every departed showed up for the event with a vehicle to showcase.
Even a retired Bradley Beach PD captain offered to bring his food truck and donate food to everyone in attendance.
Watching from behind the scenes, Major saw how happy Jaxon was as he played with the Asbury and State Police cars. And he felt happy, too, to be a part of this.
“He was just a little boy being a little boy, forgetting about how sick he is,” Major added. “If my kid needed something, and there was someone out there that could step up and help, then I would appreciate it. This is just what we do.”