BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Students and their teachers dressed in pink marched down Catalpa Avenue on Oct. 22 carrying ribbons and handmade signs of support. They gathered on the precinct steps and were greeting by Executive Commanding Officer Captain Mark Wachter and his team as part of the New York City Police Department’s NYPD Blue Goes Pink initiative.
“It’s not only about the police department; it’s about the community. It’s about you the students, helping us out, bringing awareness,” Wachter said. “You’re the future. You’re the ones who, 15 or 20 years from now, will be leading this city. We have to invest in you, look after you and care for you.”
P.S. 88 Principal Robert Quintana delivered an inspiring and emotional address in which he remembered family members and faculty who have dealt with the disease.
“For me, personally, I lost my aunt to it two years ago. P.S. 88 lost one of our own who left behind a husband and two children,” he explained. “It’s a disease that does not discriminate. We’ve come together for one cause, as a community of Ridgewood and a community of humanitarians, to say that we want people to know that there are things we can do to prevent cancer.”
P.S. 88 PTA Alexandra Bauza teamed up with fifth-grade teacher Thomas Brunhuber to create a large, 8-foot-tall pink ribbon adorned with words of encouragement, such as “Fight On” and “Believe,” for those struggling with breast cancer.
Brunhuber explained that P.S. 88 is involved in multiple fundraising efforts for a variety of breast cancer organizations, including The Avon Walk for Women, The American Cancer Society and Mammograms in Action.
A large pink ribbon was positioned in the precinct’s front door and served as the backdrop for the rally. Captain Wachter used the words displayed on the ribbon to inspire the young students at the rally.
Wachter promised to mount the large ribbon on the wall outside the precinct along with the other pink ribbons, signs and décor. The students were each given a pink carnation to bring home to their families in an effort to continue the dialogue about breast cancer and the need for early detection at home.
A small group of students read prayers and words of encouragement for the fight against breast cancer. They also thanked the officers for the 104th Precinct for their dedication and led the group in a moment of silence to honor fallen NYPD Officer Randolph Holder.
The students held up their signs and the large pink ribbon for an aerial photograph from the precinct’s roof, after which bangs of pink confetti were dropped down onto the crowd, much to the students’ delight. In an added show of hospitality and support, Wachter invited the children to put their handmade signs up inside the precinct.