Xaverian’s Hoban Run Serves Dual Purpose (with video and slideshow)

The 26th annual P.O. Hoban Memorial 5-Mile Run has become an annual tradition in Bay Ridge. (Photo by Jim Mancari)
The 26th annual P.O. Christopher Hoban Memorial 5-Mile Run has become an annual tradition in Bay Ridge. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Many young local athletes consider soon-to-be-retired New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter or New York Knicks’ power forward Carmelo Anthony or even New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning as their “hero.”

While these athletes have done a fine job of setting the example for kids, it’s a bit of a stretch to be casually tossing around the word “hero.”

Police Officer Christopher Hoban, in contrast, is a true hero.

Back on Oct. 18, 1988, Hoban – a 1980 graduate of Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge – was killed in the line of duty during an undercover narcotics operations buy-and-bust. He was only 26 years old, and 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.

Unfortunately, Hoban’s life was in fact in danger, as he was shot and fatally wounded that night.


Hoban Memorial Run

The year after Hoban was killed, the Police Alumni of Xaverian H.S. organized the P.O. Christopher Hoban Memorial 5-Mile Run in Bay Ridge. For 26 years, the run has become a fall tradition in the community.

“Something this great can’t be contained, so it has to include everybody in the neighborhood,” said Deacon Kevin McCormack, Xaverian’s principal. “As we like to say, ‘Here comes everybody!’ Well, here comes everybody in Bay Ridge and New York to celebrate Xaverian but more importantly Officer Hoban.”

This year, nearly 500 runners ran in the race held Sept. 21, with the course starting and finishing at Xaverian. The run starts out along the Shore Road Promenade bicycle path and returns to the school by way of Third Avenue.

In addition to keeping alive Hoban’s memory, the run serves as the primary fundraiser for the Hoban Scholarship, a fund organized by the Police Alumni that provides tuition assistance to sons of NYPD officers attending Xaverian. Since its inception, the scholarship fund has granted over half a million dollars to its recipients.

“His (Hoban) name won’t be forgotten,” said Vincenzo Cammilleri, a junior scholarship recipient. “I live through Mr. Hoban. I try to make a good memory of him in everything I do here at Xaverian.”

Hoban’s Legacy

Police Officer Christopher Hioban (Photo courtesy Xaverian H.S.)
Police Officer Christopher Hoban (Photo courtesy Xaverian H.S.)

The Hoban family practiced their faith at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish, Sunset Park, where Chris also went to grammar school before heading to Xaverian, which was his first choice for high school.

He always loved to play basketball, even though he was only 5-feet, 5-inches tall. However, he allowed his perseverance to define his play on the court, which led him to making the Xaverian hoops team. He was even given the nickname “Muggsy” after Muggsy Bogues, the retired 14-year NBA point guard who holds the distinction of being the shortest player in the history of the league at 5-feet, 3-inches.

At a young age, Chris developed an inkling to want to become a police officer. His younger brother Martin recalls him always helping out and doing good deeds for others.

But when Chris was 13 years old, he took his community service a step further. His neighbor’s house caught on fire, and Chris ran into the burning building with a man trapped inside. Though Chris did not succeed in saving the man’s life, this moment cemented his eventual career path.

“I knew then that he (Chris) would do anything to help others,” said Martin, a 1984 Xaverian graduate. “It is that character that led him to the NYPD.”

Just as his stature could have been viewed as a disadvantage on the basketball court, Chris’ height almost precluded his dream of becoming a police officer. He did not meet the NYPD’s height requirement of 5-feet, 8-inches, but those parameters were eventually overturned in litigations, allowing Chris to join the force.

As a police officer, Chris never hit the baseball like Derek Jeter; he never made three-pointers like Carmelo Anthony; and he never threw touchdown passes like Eli Manning.

But to so many, his actions serving his city were heroic.

And though the far majority of the Hoban race runners never knew Chris, the run continues to celebrate the legacy of his personal sacrifice in which he put his own life at risk to defend what he knew was right.