BY DIANA BIERMAN
On the warm, sunny day of July 14, hundreds came out to the Sloatsburg Community Fields in support of the fourth annual Jason M. Hruscik Memorial Softball Tournament.
The event is held each summer in memory of Jason Hruscik, who passed away suddenly from a coronary heart attack in his sleep on July 7, 2008 at 25 years old. Ever since, family and friends have done everything they could to keep Jason’s spirit alive.
“My brother has always been the brains of the family,” said Jason’s brother, Josh Hruscik. “He was extremely smart, generous, caring, and above all, he was patient.”
And patient you had to be if you wanted to do everything at the event. It was a hit, with something for everyone: Besides several softball games being played, there was a live DJ, ice cream and Italian ice trucks, local vendors, raffles and tons of child-friendly happenings, such as a clown and a bouncy castle. A new event this year was the appearance of Hi-Tor Animal Shelter, who came with animals up for adoption.
“Each year we seem to be getting more and more people to show up, and more and more people to come out and participate,” Josh said. “This is one of the biggest events in Sloatsburg, and the people here love to come down. Sloatsburg supports Sloatsburg, and the people here are extremely dedicated to helping each other out.”
The profits raised are donated 50/50 to the New York Organ Donor Network, where Jason’s heart valves and corneas were donated, and PS 85 in the Bronx, where Jason worked as a second grade teacher. “He loved where he worked, and now it’s our time to give back,” Josh explained.
One of the biggest goals of the event was to raise awareness of organ donation. New York is near the bottom in terms of drivers who are signed up to donate. With more organs for life-saving transplants, more deaths could be prevented.
Among the crowd at the tournament was Lauren Shields, 12, of Stony Point, who received a heart transplant when she was 10, who’s advocated for more people to become organ donors. She was so moving, in fact, that she recently inspired the creation of Lauren’s Law, which requires New Yorkers to reply either “yes” or “skip this question” with regards to donor options when completing a driver’s license application. This law raises the number of organ donors in New York by increasing the pool of potential donors.
“As a future nurse, organ donation is extremely helpful to people in need,” said Samantha Lloyd, of Mahwah, NJ, who came out to support the Hruscik family. “It’s great to see friends and family coming together for a good cause and to relive the memory of Jason.”
This year, the memorial fund raised nearly $7,000. So will there be more events in the future? Absolutely. “We continue to have great success, and I don’t see it slowing down,” said Josh.
To learn more or donate to the Jason Hruscik Memorial Fund, visit www.jasonsfund.com or the New York Organ Donor Network’s website at www.donatelifeny.org. Also follow the fund on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JasonHrusciklFund.