St. John's Honors City's First Responders during Basketball Game at MSG
St. John’s University paid tribute to the City’s Police, Fire, and Sanitation departments as well as the Office of Emergency Management for heroism during Hurricane Sandy, with a half-time ceremony at the men’s basketball game against Marquette at Madison Square Garden on March 9.
As New York’s hometown team, St. John’s welcomed hundreds of members of the City’s agencies to the Red Storm’s home turf for First Responders Day. The University’s senior administrators gathered on center court to make a formal presentation of commemorative game balls to leaders of the NYPD, FDNY, DSNY, and OEM—thanking them for their extraordinary life-saving efforts during the most destructive hurricane in New York City history.
A crowd of 12,474 fans—the second largest turnout for a home game this season—witnessed the event during a clash that saw St. John’s overcome a 10-point deficit to force overtime play before the 69-67 Marquette victory. Representing their agencies at the ceremony were OEM Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno ’68L, ’88HON; Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano; NYPD Deputy Inspector Thomas Burns; and Sanitation Borough Chief Myron Priester.
"St. John's is thrilled to have had representatives from New York City's four major agencies and their heroic departments join us for First Responders Day,” said Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., University president. “We felt this opportunity was long overdue as we joined with our fans to thank the NYPD, FDNY, OEM, and DSNY for their tireless efforts in keeping New Yorkers safe each and every day. We value our partnerships with these critical agencies.”
“Like all New Yorkers we appreciate the brave and heroic efforts of the first responders,” said Chris Monasch ’81SVC, director of Athletics. “The link between the University and the four major agencies is significant, with St. John’s men and women employed throughout the respective organizations. This event is a modest gesture to show our appreciation for the great work they do serving and protecting our city.”
Representatives of the City’s agencies expressed appreciation for the tribute—and for a close working relationship with the University. “St. John’s clearly recognizes the important role the Fire Department played during Superstorm Sandy—as our firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics operated in dangerous and unprecedented conditions to keep New Yorkers safe,” said Commissioner Cassano. “The ceremony was a wonderful tribute by St. John’s and celebrated the tireless work of so many before, during, and after the storm.”
“We have a great relationship with the university community in this city, and St. John’s is one of the major representatives of that community,” noted Commissioner Bruno. “During Hurricane Sandy, St. John’s had a seat at our Emergency Operations Center. I think the good work with St. John’s and other universities has paid tremendous dividends. All the efforts by the private sector, in partnership with agencies of the government, led to the best result we could have in a very serious emergency.”
During and after Hurricane Sandy, the University’s Emergency Management Team—including representatives from nearly every academic and administrative unit—maintained contact with the Office of Emergency Management. “As a former member of the NYPD, I’m very proud to be part of St. John’s effort to recognize the contributions of our city’s first responders,” said Thomas J. Lawrence, vice president for public safety. “It means a great deal to the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for the people of our city.”