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Fundraiser for cancer-stricken 49th Precint cop a success

Bronx Times

They pulled into Morris Park from all over the tri-state for an officer some never met. But the 10-13 was heard loud and clear, compelling many to answer it.

Local civic groups pooled their resources. Sweet Sophia’s bakeshop, PJ Brady’s, Carmela Printing and other merchants pitched in. Their outreach was all in the name of Officer Owen Ortiz of the 49th Precinct. The nine-year veteran just fought the battle of his life-- stage IV cancer.

His battle pushed the cancer back into remission, but his medical bills piled up after aggressive chemotherapy sessions at area hospitals.

But his fellow men and women of the Four-Nine stepped up, coordinating a fundraiser in Ortiz’s name on Tuesday, October 2 at the F&J Pine. They managed to raise a substantial amount of money thanks to the evening fundraiser, from the generorisity of fellow police officers and the community of the 49th Precint” according to the 49th Precinct. Other charitable venues contributed to the number including gofundme.com, a website that allows people to securely donate money for people in tough circumstances. Donors can post inspiring messages.

Not too far away, attendees at the 49th Precinct Community Council at Maestro’s Caterers chipped in to donate to the Officer Ortiz’s cause. Donations, followed by a raffle, helped organizers collect nearly $600 in donations.

The outpouring of support was clear for 49th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Vic DiPierro, who led the fundraiser.

“We had eight hundred people coming,” noted DiPierro.

Energizing the event was an appearance by Ortiz himself, still picking up the pieces from the cancer that left him emaciated and susceptible to colds. A surgical mask strapped to his face, the towering Ortiz spent hours giving thanks to attendees at 1913 Bronxdale Avenue who stood on a long line just to meet him. Some didn’t even know who he was, according to DiPierro.

“He was very humbled by the outpouring of support and everyone who contributed to the gofundme website,” said DiPierro, equally thankful to the community for extending their hand to help.

Ortiz took a leave of absence early this year to begin treatments for the cancer first found inside his cheek. The daily treatments were soon compromised after coverage for his treatments expired under the NYPD benefits package. This left him and his family forced to pay out-of-pocket expenses, a challenge for a married father of a 4-year-old.

His condition certainly hit home for DiPierro, a cancer survivor. Walking down his path once, DiPierro was compelled to help.

“You set aside him being a co-worker, but (help) as a friend helping another friend.”

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group