We’ve all heard the phrase before, but in some situations, it seems to resonate more so than others: God works in mysterious ways.
When a family loses a child to cancer, that unfortunately is God working in a mysterious way.
But to then see how that family and the local community have rebounded to turn a tragedy into a means of helping others, that is also the footprint of God’s work.
From Oct. 2 to 21, Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst, hosted the first-ever Colin Flood Hoops for Hope Memorial Basketball Tournament. Colin was an eight-year-old boy from Middle Village who passed away on June 22, 2014, after a courageous two-and-a-half-year battle with acute lymphocytic leukemia.
He played Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball at St. Adalbert’s, Elmhurst, and baseball at Our Lady of Hope, Middle Village. These two parishes’ athletic representatives – Lou Pagnotta and Bob Posio, respectively – combined to present the invitational hoops tournament.
A total of 14 bantam and rookie Division II CYO teams entered the double elimination tournament. The parishes represented were Our Lady of Hope; St. Adalbert; Sacred Heart, Glendale; St. Pancras, Glendale; Resurrection-Ascension, Rego Park; St. Joseph, Astoria; St. Joan of Arc, Jackson Heights; and St. Stanislaus Kostka, Maspeth.
“We knew he (Colin) loved basketball, and since I have ties with people who run basketball in the schools around here, we thought it would be a great thing to do,” said Kevin Flood, Colin’s father.
Colin was diagnosed on Christmas Eve 2011 at the age of six and had surgery the next day to have a port placed in his chest. Yet, throughout the entire process, he never complained and was a symbol of strength for Kevin and his other family members: his mother Jennifer and brothers Brody and Ryan.
“After major liver surgery, he (Colin) was getting up and doing some silly dance and making me laugh,” said Kevin, a graduate of Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood. “This went on for the whole time of two-and-a-half years.
“He had such an old soul and a genuine heart. He always cared about the other kids in the hospital that were younger and who were going through the same thing. He just had a good heart.”
To remember Colin’s memory, Cathedral Prep recently began a scholarship fund to be awarded to a young man of character attending the school. Colin’s uncle Vinny graduated Cathedral in 1986, and Vinny’s son Christopher, Colin’s cousin, is currently enrolled as a freshman.
“They are a family rooted in faith,” said Cathedral’s Rector-President Father Joseph Fonti. “Our faith is an anchor for us in the midst of life’s turbulent storms. What can be seen as probably the most vicious and violent of storms – the death of a child – that in and of itself can seem to capsize us.
“But they are a family that has faith…a faith that we process that tells us life changes at death; it doesn’t end.”
The tournament was used as a way to further fund the scholarship. Additionally, a donation was made to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity organization that helps fight pediatric cancer.
“It (the tournament) ran smoother than I could have imagined,” Kevin said. “The students here (at Cathedral) are great. They do everything and anything for us. Without their help, it would have been tough getting any volunteers, so they’ve been great.”
The Floods have been active in numerous pediatric cancer organizations, including former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin’s Jay Fund and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“They’ve (the Floods) committed the rest of their lives not only to the two boys they still have but to helping others,” said Posio, the tournament’s director.
While the Flood family will never stop mourning the loss of a son and brother, they have shown their fortitude in being able to turn a tragic event into a means of raising awareness for pediatric cancer.
“I’m happy and sad because it (the tournament) is for the reason that I lost him (Colin),” Kevin said. “I took care of him and never left his side for two-and-a-half years. So this is my way of taking care of him still. Keeping his name going and getting the research done to help the next kids who are going to get cancer, that’s why we’re doing this.”
God works in mysterious ways, and we may never know for sure why exactly a child comes down with cancer.
But through the establishment of a basketball tournament and a scholarship fund in Colin’s name, the Floods hope the medical community will someday arrive at a cure.
If and when that day comes, it will be Colin smiling down upon us, knowing that it was his kind heart that inspired others in his memory.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.