Dunmoreans of the Month: Theo and Greg Zayac

Dunmoreans of monthBy Steve Svetovich

Theo and Greg Zayac are Dunmoreans who are truly out to save the world, or at least the tiniest part of it in the form of young infants.

Their ambition is fueled by a cruel tragedy — the death of their healthy three-month-old infant son Jude on July 23, 2014, as a result of S.I.D.S (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

While other parents might be destroyed by such a loss, the grieving young couple instead vowed to make sense out of the tragedy and to make a positive impact in the name of Jude.

When friends set up a Go Fund Me account in the days following Jude’s death, both Theo and Greg knew they did not want to use the money for themselves, but that they wanted to start a foundation in their son’s name. They spent the next six months learning about S.I.D.S and about which hospitals were in the forefront of research. They were saddened to discover that S.I.D.S. is the leading cause of  death in children under one year of age, amounting to approximately 4,000 deaths each year.

Known as the silent killer, since victims pass away in their sleep, S.I.D.S. strikes without notice. Not much is known about its causes, although a study at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2010 concluded that there may be a link between brainstem abnormalities and serotonin deficiencies and S.I.D.S.

“More studies like this need to be conducted to develop this theory and to find a way to detect S.I.D.S. before it kills more healthy babies, like our sweet Jude,” Theo says.

Greg and Theo  believe that Boston Children’s Hospital is the premiere research center for S.I.D.S., making the biggest breakthroughs to help understand and prevent the syndrome, and they decided to raise fund for that research..

Dunmorean of the Month - Jog-for-Jude-2016-52-of-268-768x512“This became a huge part of our coping process, especially for my husband,” explains Theo. “We found that we could put our energy into raising monies to find the causes of S.I.D.S and help other parents avoid a devastating loss like ours. It was a positive way to focus our energy and emotions It has become our mission.”

After doing the research and establishing the Jude Zayac Foundation, the couple settled on the idea of sponsoring a “Jog for Jude”. This simple idea has grown into an event that draws thousands from the community and far beyond to raise both funds and awareness for SIDS research. This year’s fourth annual event will be held on Sunday, April 22, at Dunmore Community Center, 1414 Monroe Ave., Dunmore.

Although the race is the signature event, the family pursues awareness events and fund-raising all year round, including the Blue and Pink Day held in March.

It is very much a family affair, spearheaded by Theo and Greg, with the wholehearted support of their parents, John and Florence Lawless and Ted and Kim Zayac, all of Dunmore. Even their older son, Gregory, now age 7, became involved from the beginning, as have the latest additions to the Zayac’s family–Matilda, 2, and Gus, 9 months.

Dunmorean of the Month - Jude ZayacAlso on board from the start were their siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, and many family friends. For instance, Kevin Hayes is in charge of development; Matt Swartz, finance; Ted Zayac, logistics; Cara McCormick and Florence Lawless, entertainment; Mariclare Hayes and Steve Zayak, awareness; Shamus McCormick, race operations; Linda Speicher and Kim Zayac, volunteers, and Bryan Zayac, recognition.

Their efforts and those of volunteers (370 assisted with the last year’s  Jog for Jude), attracted 2,121 participants in 2017, with $108,496 raised. They expect even higher numbers this year.

Jog for Jude features the area’s only 5K race raising awareness and funds for S.I.D.S. research, as well as a 1 Mile Fun Walk. Pricing for participation is age-based, and various other activities including basket raffles and activities for children are featured.

For more information, visit  www.runsignup.com/Race/PA/Dunmore/JogforJude.

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Dunmorean of the Month: Tommy Williams

Dunmorean of the Month - Tommy WilliamsBy Emily Fedor

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 700 babies in the United States is born with Down Syndrome. That’s about 6,000 each year.

In honor of March 21 being World Down Syndrome Day, the Dunmorean is proud to recognize one of the borough’s youngest residents as this month’s “Dunmorean of the Month.”

Tommy Williams is one year old. Come July 19, that number will change to two.

His parents, Julie and Mark, say he’s just like any other toddler. He loves to play catch, crawl around the house and, of course, play with his big brother Alex and big sister Kelcey.

“He’s full of life. He loves to play and laugh,” his mom Julie said.

The only thing that’s a little different about Tommy is that he was born with an extra chromosome.

The Williams first learned of the diagnosis from an ultrasound performed when Julie was 20 weeks pregnant. The scan showed three soft markers or possible indicators that Tommy could have Down Syndrome.

And months later when Tommy was born, that possibility turned out to be a reality. Doctors told Julie and Mark their new baby boy did in fact have Down Syndrome specifically, Trisomy 21, which is the most common type of Down Syndrome.

As you may know, people who have Down Syndrome may look and learn a little differently, but that doesn’t mean Tommy or others who have the condition can’t live life to the fullest.

Every week, Tommy spends hours in therapy to ensure that. He’s been going through both physical and occupational therapy sessions since he was just a few months old. And now that he’s a little older and starting to use his vocal chords, he’ll soon be starting speech therapy too.

As for how long those sessions will last, well, that’s all up to Tommy.

“Therapists say it’s all up to what Tommy does. Every kid is different. They don’t go at the same pace,” said Julie. “So it’s up to him. We’ll just see what he does.”

So everyone can see what Tommy’s doing, Julie Williams decided to create a Facebook page called “Tommy’s Troopers.”

“So many people wanted to see Tommy and wanted to follow him,” she said. “So I thought, why don’t I just make a page? That way anyone who wants to follow Tommy can just go to this page.”

Dunmorean of the Month - Williams Family

The Williams Family is shown here sporting their “Down with Tommy Shirts” outside the borough building. From left, Julie, Tommy, Kelcey, Mark and Alex Williams.

On the Tommy’s Troopers page, Julie posts milestones that Tommy has reached, such as his first words: “boo” and “hi.” She also shares details for fundraisers and events aiming to raise awareness for her son’s condition, as well as information from “Nothing Down” a non-profit organization for which Tommy is an ambassador.

The community of Bucktown always rallies around its own, and this little guy is no exception. To show that Dunmore is down with Tommy, borough officials even went as far as proclaiming October 20 as “Tommy Williams Down Syndrome Awareness Day” this past fall.

According to a report from the TImes Tribune, council President Michael McHale said, “It’s rare that we as council are without words, but we couldn’t be more happy and more proud of this fellow Dunmorean.”

“Dunmore is just so supportive of him,” said Julie. “I run into people and they’ll say “Hi Tommy,” and I don’t know who they are. People just know him, and I’m glad Dunmore is so supportive of all kids in our area.”

Julie says she wants people to know one thing about her son’s condition, and that is despite how scary the condition may seem, it’s really not scary at all.

“There’s nothing scary about Down Syndrome. When I was pregnant and found out, it was scary for me,” said Julie, “but Tommy is no different than my other two children. He’s so lovable, and he’s just a normal little kid.”

For more information about Down Syndrome, feel free to visit NothingDown.org.

Dunmorean of the Month: Andrew Fazio

Dunmorean of the Month - Andrew FazioBy Steve Svetovich

Andrew Fazio, owner and operator of Andy’s Service Center, was recently ordained as permanent deacon by the Scranton diocese. He is the first deacon to come out of Saint Mary’s of Mount Carmel parish, Dunmore.

Fazio, 63, has been a member of Saint Mary’s of Mount Carmel parish for the past 41 years. The 1972 Dunmore High School graduate is married for 40 years to the former Ann Marie Rinaldi. The couple has four children: Monica Marie, 38, Andrew, Jr., 35, Daniel Joseph, 25, and Alison Marie, 23.

Fazio attended the Diaconate program for four years and completed various college courses in theology before he was ordained as a permanent deacon by the Scranton diocese.

David Bohr is secretary of formation for the program. Fazio praised him for his help and support in the program. “He put the program together and plans the classes,” said Fazio.

“I had a calling for it and a draw to that program,” said Fazio. “It is a program of service. A deacon is ordained to service the people and the bishop.

Fazio Ordained as Deacon“That’s our ministry. Not to be served, but to serve.”

Fazio has been serving the Dunmore community for the past 38 years as owner and operator of Andy’s Service Center. He has been known to lend a helping hand to the elderly and others in need.

There are countless stories in the Dunmore borough about Fazio helping a senior citizen, a college student, or your ordinary Joe. Humble in nature, you won’t hear those stories from him.

“I got into it,” said Fazio, “because I like to help people solve their problems. I like to help make things easier for people and eliminate their stress.

“There is a lot of technology today. Too much technology is not a good thing.

“I get to know my customers well. I’ve had recent customers who I served both their fathers and grandfathers throughout the years. I get to know the whole family from the grandparents on down.

“Things can get expensive when they break and I try to ease the pain.”

Andy’s Service Station does body work, small engine repair, state inspections and various other repairs. A state inspection at Andy’s is only $19.95 and $29.95 for emissions.

“We do just about everything.”

Fazio said the Diaconate program was extensive and he had to put a lot of work into it.

“A big part of it is helping people. I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people.

The feeling of accomplishing this is very rewarding. I really love it. It is a big part of my life. It’s something I’ve always wanted. It’s now a part of me.”

Dunmoreans of the Year: 2017-2018 Dunmore Bucks Football Team

bucks

Photo Credit: Rich Banick Photography

By Steve Svetovich

Congratulations to the 2017 Dunmore Bucks football team, our Dunmoreans of the Year.

Dunmore, led by veteran head football coach Jack Henzes, won the Lackawanna Football Conference Division III title and fourth consecutive District 2 Class 2A crown.

Dunmore finished the season 14-1 after losing to eventual state champion Southern Columbia in the semifinals.

The 14 wins tied for the most in team history.

The 14-win season was the fourth in Dunmore’s history.

And the 14-win unbeaten streak was the longest in team’s history, beating the 1985 Eastern Conference team that finished 13-0.

Only the Valley View Cougars, which won 15 games in its state title run in 1992, won more games in a single season.

Jerry Longo and Michael Muracco are both members of four straight District 2 championship winning teams — a run that began in 2014 for the Bucks.

The icing on the cake came late last month when Shoemaker, a two-way starting lineman, was presented the prestigious Fiore Cesare Award and Scholarship. The Scranton Chapter of Football Officials and Peoples Bank Security presented the standout senior with the award at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel.

Shoemaker is the fourth Dunmore player to win the award, joining Brett Trichilo, Miller Holmes and Michael Perry.

Shoemaker also earned All Region honors and his second berth on the Class 2A all-state team. He will continue his playing career at Monmouth University.

Dunmore’s Jerry Longo, Shoemaker, Stevs Borgia, Darcy and Nate Fangio were all named to the Lackawanna Football Conference Division III Coaches’ All-Star first team offense.

Dunmore’s George Mesko, Luke Yanisko, Shoemaker, Fangio and Borgia made first team defense.

Cristian Buckley rushed for 140 yards on 17 carries in Dunmore’s 35-6 win over Newport in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs. Darcy fired a 59-yard touchdown pass to Fangio in the win.

Dunmore moved its record to 14-0, with a 23-20 win over Ligonier Valley in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal at Hershey. The win tied the school record for consecutive wins in a season.

Darcy completed 5-of-10 passes in the win. He tossed 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Noah O’Malley.

Dunmore’s Kyle Harrity made the key play in the game when he blocked a punt for a safety giving the Bucks a 16-14 lead five minutes into the third quarter.

The Bucks then scored off the free kick, with Buckley cutting up the middle after a cut to the right for a 24-yard touchdown jaunt.

It was a football season the town of Dunmore will never forget.

The full team roster is as follows: Sean Pietruszkiewica, Mark Rinaldi, Luke Yanisko, Noah O’Malley, Thomas Lewis, Greg McDade, George Mesko, Caleb Kilmer, Steve Borgia, Gavin Darcy, Nate Fangio, Nick Stanco, Cristian Buckley, Joe Talutto, Charles Valvano, Billy Donvito, Kyle Harrity, Alex Reese, Frank Damiano, Jake Kalinowski, Tyler Summa, Anthony Santarsiero, Anthony Golden, Pat Donvito, Alec Yanisko, Louis LaCapra, Patrick Burke, Jake Sawka, Nick Shoemaker, Rocco LaCapro, Anthony Kashmer, Jerry Longo, Bobby McMynne, Seamus Cadden, Michael Muracco, Kris Patel, Mike Gianetta, Tyler Overholtz and Colby DeSando.