By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) held a ceremony Tuesday to commemorate the life of a teen advocate whose life was cut short by two rare illnesses.
Qadri Skipper fought with pulmonary hypertension and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia for up to 12 years, and alongside his mother advocated for a Department of Education financed, advanced life-support ambulance to transport him to and from school. Now 110th Street between 107th Avenue and 109th Avenue in South Ozone Park is known as “Qadri’s Way” in honor of his 12-year battle, which ended in 2012.
“The story of Qadri Skipper is one that begs to be told and shared. It illustrates the remarkable courage with which this young man faced the prospect of death at only the age of 5, and persevered well beyond the two-year timeline his doctors estimated,” Wills said. “Qadri refused to let these disorders dictate the terms of his life, and he lived as completely as one saddled with such burdens possibly could,.”
Skipper was a student at the Information Technology High School in Long Island City, according to Wills, and died during his last year of enrollment. He was posthumously awarded his diploma. There is now an annual scholarship in his name.
“I stand here today, I know where my blessings are,” Doreen Blair-Skipper, Qadri’s mother said, after explaining her son’s contribution to the lives of other people burdened with the two diseases. “And Qadri’s Way street signing is a testament of his character.”
Joann Schmidt, a pulmonary hypertension support group leader and patient who knew Skipper, spoke at the ceremony and told the story of her experience with the young man who faced these burdens uncomplainingly. Brooke Keith, another PH patient, said if it had not been for Skipper, who encouraged her to be vigilant about taking her medication, she would not be alive today.
Kenneth Pawlukiewicz, the 2013 Information Technology High School PTA president and founder of Qadri Skipper Memorial Scholarship, said he had not met Skipper but was so inspired by the story his mother told him about her son that he organized the annual scholarship in his name.
“From talking sports with his nurses and doctors to supporting others facing difficulty, Qadri never allowed his condition to hold him back. All of us can learn from his example,” co-sponsor of the street naming Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said. “This street naming allows us to honor Qadri’s memory and remember the joy he brought to everybody in his life.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall