For the past 28 years, the Xaverian H.S. community in Bay Ridge has engaged in an autumn tradition by coming together in mid-September to honor the memory of a hero.
That hero however is not a current or former professional athlete – many of whom are often viewed as heroes in today’s society.
No, instead this hero was simply doing his job.
And he was so dedicated to his job that it cost him his life, which he sacrificed for the safety of others.
Police Officer Christopher Hoban, a 1980 graduate of Xaverian, is a hero.
On Sept. 18, Xaverian hosted its annual P.O. Christopher Hoban Memorial Five-Mile Run, which started and finished at the school while traversing the Shore Road Promenade bicycle path and Third Avenue.
The race celebrates Hoban’s sacrifice, when on Oct. 18, 1988, the 26-year-old officer was killed in the line of duty during an undercover narcotics operation buy-and-bust.
His cover was blown when he refused to sample cocaine he was attempting to buy from three men in an apartment on West 105th Street. At that time, an NYPD policy prohibited the sampling of drugs unless an officer’s life was in danger. He was fatally shot that night.
A year later, the Police Alumni of Xaverian established the race to remember Hoban, who also attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help parochial school, Sunset Park.
“This race and the community of Bay Ridge and everything that everybody does in the memory of my brother are just so wonderful,” said Martin Hoban, Christopher’s younger brother and a 1984 Xaverian graduate. “It helps to cleanse my family and really helps with the healing process.”
In addition to remembering Hoban’s legacy, the Xaverian community gathers each fall for the race in order to honor all NYPD officers who have chosen a life of service to protect others.
“For us this is such an important day because it allows us to be mindful of the sacrifices that our brothers and sisters in blue make for us every day,” said Xaverian President Robert Alesi. “Chris was one of ours, so we want to honor him and his memory and the sacrifice that he made for our city.”
For his continued dedication to the annual race, Alesi received a special award from the Hoban Race Committee as well as certificates of recognition from New York State Sen. Martin Golden and New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile.
“It gives us the opportunity to remember a true hero,” Alesi said. “In a day when heroes are hard to come by, I think for our young people, we really can recognize and focus in on who the real heroes are in our society.”
The race also serves the purpose of being the primary fundraiser for the Hoban Scholarship, a fund organized by Xaverian’s Police Alumni that provides tuition assistance to sons and daughters of NYPD officers to attend the school.
“So many young men and women have had the opportunity to go to Xaverian in my brother’s memory to get a Catholic education that myself and my brother had the opportunity to have,” Martin said.
The street outside the school – 71st Street – was renamed P.O. Chris Hoban Way, which further keeps alive Chris’ memory.
“We want the young students to remember what sacrifice meant to Christopher and that we don’t forget,” said Michael Wilson, Xaverian Police Alumni president. “Here’s 28 years later, and we constantly remember his name.”
And there are reasons why we remember his name.
Not only do we remember Hoban’s devoted sacrifice to his city, but we also remember how Xaverian has preserved the legacy of one of its own.
Out of the tragedy of death has come the birth of a true hero.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.