Thanksgiving weekend is a time to take stock of all the blessings God has bestowed upon us and to do exactly what the holiday’s name says to do – give thanks.
However, for one Brooklyn family, the events of the past few months have cast a shadow over God’s blessings. But even so, it has not stopped them one bit from giving thanks.
The McCarthy family of Gerritsen Beach splits its time between Resurrection Church and St. Bernard, Mill Basin. At the end of August, the McCarthys received the news that their only son, “Eddie Boy” as he’s lovingly known, was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer.
Eddie is a freshman at Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, who loves all sports, especially baseball, hockey and basketball. This past Thanksgiving weekend, he and his family were able to give thanks through the realm of basketball, as they were the honored guests at St. Thomas Aquinas’ first annual “Giving Thanks” Hoops Classic, held in the Flatlands’ parish’s Msgr. King Hall.
All the proceeds from the tournament – featuring teams from St. Thomas Aquinas; St. Bernard; St. Ephrem, Dyker Heights; and Good Shepherd, Marine Park – benefited “Team Eddie Boy,” a fund set up to help the McCarthy family offset some of the costs of Eddie’s cancer treatment.
The St. Thomas Aquinas seventh-grade Catholic Youth Organization team won its host tournament, but all winning aside, the kids understood the true purpose of the hoops classic.
“Starting from the kids, when I explained to them the cause and what’s going on, they were the first ones to take it upon themselves,” said Domenick Priante, tournament organizer and the team’s head coach. “They said, ‘Let’s play for Eddie,’ and we actually dedicated this championship to him.”
From the beginning, the proceeds from the classic would have been donated to some particular charity anyway, but when Priante heard about Team Eddie Boy, that instantly become the outlet for the fundraiser.
Eddie was actually baptized at St. Thomas Aquinas, but again, the family attends Mass at Resurrection or St. Bernard. So for the St. Thomas Aquinas Sports Association to step up to help the McCarthy family, that’s what giving thanks is all about.
“It’s a group effort,” said Guy DeFonzo, St. Thomas Aquinas’ parish athletic representative (PAR). “We as PARs all know each other; we stick together. We’re all doing this as a group; it’s all for a good cause. It’s great to see all the local parishes helping out and getting involved in this great event for Team Eddie.”
Eddie Boy’s father, Ed McCarthy Sr., said it’s been humbling to see how others have cared for the family in this trying time. He especially was thankful to Priante, DeFonzo and the entire family of St. Thomas Aquinas for organizing the hoops classic.
“It’s been fantastic,” Ed Sr. said. “Ed (Eddie Boy) has enjoyed being here; it’s a change of pace for him. Ed loves sports and has been playing basketball for years as well, so he’s enjoyed this immensely. And for us, it’s a nice break also to see Ed smiling and happy.”
“It just shows you how your life comes full circle,” said Ann McCarthy, Eddie Boy’s mother. “We baptized Eddie Boy here not knowing that we’d be back 14 years later because they’ve become part of our family now and to hold us up so that we can hold Edward up.”
After the tournament’s final game, Priante presented Eddie Boy with a special “Warrior’s Award” plaque, since he was the true winner that day.
“It’s almost like a God-send,” Eddie Boy said about how the classic would benefit his family. “Domenick was very nice. I’ve only known him for a couple of days, and he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
In addition to the funds from the classic and a fundraiser held Oct. 20 at the Marine Park Golf Course, Team Eddie Boy received a $2,000 donation from the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation. Frankie Loccisano was a Xaverian student who lost his battle with bone cancer and leukemia in September, 2007.
While these donations will help, the McCarthy family could still use further support. Donations may be sent to Team Eddie Boy, 3334 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11229.
Checks should be made out to “St. Bernard” with “Team Eddie Boy” in the memo line.
The family has been so grateful for the support of others thus far as the battle against Eddie Boy’s cancer soldiers on.
“If generosity alone could solve this,” Ed Sr. said, “it would have been solved already.”
Contact Jim Mancari at firstname.lastname@example.org.