There’s nothing more that 16-year-old Colin Kennedy of Buchanan wants to do when he graduates from college than to become a New York City police officer.
When his father, New York Police Department (NYPD) officer Paul Kennedy, passed away in August from complications due to diabetes, Colin’s desire to follow in his father’s footsteps grew even stronger.
Colin’s family, friends, and Officer Kennedy’s colleagues from the Manhattan 10th Precinct banded together to boost the young man who suffered a devastating loss.
During his 16th birthday party on Sept. 19, Colin received a surprise visit from NYPD detective Robert Garland, founder and chief executive officer of Fund the First, and NYPD Lieutenant Kevin Darcey, chief marketing officer of the organization. They presented him with a check from Fund the First.
“We were able to raise more than $20,000 for Colin,” said Garland, “along with some 200 messages of support.” Fund the First is an online fundraising platform for military, medical professionals, and first responders.
Organized by Colin’s mother, Nicole Degl, the party was held at their home and attended by more than 25 family members and friends. “While it was a celebration, it was also a sad time because it was Colin’s first birthday without his father,” said Degl, who remained close with her son’s father even after they were divorced.
“It was a very touching experience to be at the party and to stare into Colin’s eyes, and see that his father is looking down on him no matter what,” said Robert Garland. “To tell the truth, it’s not the money that was raised – because Colin will be well taken care of by the NYPD. It’s more about the support system that’s out there and will always watch out for Colin,” says Garland.
“I was very surprised and excited when the guys from Fund the First showed up, and I felt very grateful,” said Colin. “The notes that people sent me with their words of encouragement made me feel very loved and supported. It was very emotional to hear my father’s colleagues and friends say how proud he was of me.”
‘EVERYONE LOVED HIM’
Colin’s Fund the First campaign was organized by 10th Precinct police officer Steve Malvagna, who knew Officer Kennedy since 2016.
“Paul was a really great guy and everyone loved him,” said Malvagna. “He was an extraordinary person who exemplified dedication and love towards his family, friends, and career. He will truly be missed.”
According to Nicole Degl, Kennedy fought hard to be a police officer, overcoming his diabetes, and joining the force when he was 35. “I have no words to express how grateful we are for the notes of support we received after Paul’s passing,” said Degl. “We really felt the presence of the entire NYPD.”
Officer Kennedy had a very close relationship with his son, who is a junior at Hendrick Hudson High School. “Colin’s the kind of kid who will stop to help a neighbor with their groceries,” said Degl. “He’s just an extraordinary person, and not just because he’s mine.”
Laura Joseph Mogil is a freelance writer and publicist residing in Briarcliff Manor.