Before he was tragically struck down last July by a motor vehicle that jumped a curb in his South Boston neighborhood, 2-year-old Colin McGrath loved library books and going to the playground.
His parents, Brendan and Kerri McGrath — originally from Mt. Sinai — have since committed their lives to making sure other children can enjoy the same things their baby boy found so much pleasure in during his brief life.
They do so through their charity, Colin’s Joy Project.
This Sunday, a charity hockey game in Colin’s honor will help toward that goal.
The game will be played between the NYPD Hockey Club Team and Team Colin, consisting of players put together by staff at The Rinx, an ice rink in Hidden Pond Park in Hauppauge, and Colin’s uncle, Tom Palamara.
The game is set for Sunday, March 24, at 3 p.m. at The Rinx.
Kerri McGrath and her brother were raised in Mount Sinai before she moved to Boston.
Her family owns The Rinx where the game will be played.
Her father, also named Tom Palamara, who is now living in Sayville, is the president of the company and her brother, now from South Setauket, manages the winter rink in Port Jefferson Village. Her 93-year-old grandfather is the owner.
The idea for a charity game came together when two of the hockey program directors at The Rinx, Ed Chlanda and Dan O’Donoghue, were approached by the NYPD hockey players about a practice game before the annual NYPD versus FDNY hockey game at Madison Square Garden, which this year is on Saturday, March 30.
The players were arranged and a game was planned.
But another Rinx employee had an idea:
Why not turn the game into a charity event for Colin?
“The biggest and best thing about it is that it wasn’t our idea,” said the younger Palamara, who is playing on Team Colin. “It started out we were going to have a fun pickup game that turned into a fundraiser.”
Then, the effort snowballed.
“The more people who heard about it, the more they wanted to know how they could help,” he said. “Since we lost Colin, everybody has been just coming out every corner of the world to help out.”
Despite the fact that it is planned to be a warm-up game for the NYPD players, hockey fans will enjoy a high-level of competition.
“It’s a good group of guys playing,” said Palamara. “It’s nice to be in that group.”
He also said this is one of the bigger games he’s played in over the last 15 years.
Most of the team members have a personal connection to the Rinx and subsequently the family, according to Palamara.
Chlanda and O’Donoghue will also be on the ice for Team Colin.
“I think it’s an evenly matched game,” he said. “It will be competitive. The main goal is to get them (NYPD) ready for their game next week.”
The senior Palamara was happy that the game grew organically into a charity event to honor Colin’s memory.
“It’s a little overwhelming for me,” he said. “This whole situation, which came from my employees to try to do something for my grandson and my daughter, is overwhelming.”
Along with ticket sales, there will be raffles and auction items including two tickets to an Islander playoff game to raise money for Colin’s Joy Project. There will also be Colin Joy Project shirts for sale. Palamara said it will be a fun family event.
And, it’s all for a great cause.
about the charity
The Colin’s Joy Project foundation is raising money to redesign play spaces around the family’s Boston community. The charity is working with South Boston Catholic Academy, where Colin was enrolled, to raise money for an educational play space, part of which will be named after Colin.
They also ran a project to support the purchase of materials for the children’s program at the South Boston Public Library, and are arranging for long-term support of the program.
The projects are inspired by Colin’s love of playgrounds and books.
“He was full of life,” said his grandfather. “He loved to play and he loved to read.”
Palamara said that the organization will also be sponsoring a reading nook on the grounds of a senior living home near the corner where Colin was struck. The nook will give a place for residents to read to their grandchildren.
“They have been phenomenal in keeping his memorial clean and preserved and it’s still there to this day,” he said.
As a player and uncle, the younger Palamara knows that the game is beneficial for everyone involved. The NYPD players get a tune-up, Team Colin will compete in a high-profile game, and Colin’s Joy Project will be closer to its goals.
“Everybody wins,” he said.
Top photo: Brendan and Kerri McGrath (courtesy)
Team Colin will face-off against the NYPD Hockey Club Team on Sunday, March 24, at 3 p.m. The suggested donation is $10 for adults and $5 for kids. All proceeds will go to the Colin’s Joy project. For information about Colin’s Joy Project go to www.colinsjoyproject.org. For information about the game contact The Rinx.