It may have been 20 years since Anthony Giordano died in a tragic construction accident, but his friends and family have never forgotten how much the former North Bergen High School football standout meant to everyone who knew him.
“He was a great kid and a great football player,” said Pam Natosi-Richmond, a fellow member of the North Bergen Class of 1987 who remembers her friend fondly to this day. “His parents [Helen and Ralph] still live here, and his brother [Wayne] is still active with the football program as an assistant coach.”
Anthony Giordano was a standout lineman for the Bruin football team, but was also an aspiring chef who spent hours making Christmas cookies with his family and trying out new barbecue recipes. He was an accomplished artist who had a bright future with his paintings and drawings. He was also a volunteer who coached in the North Bergen Pop Warner football program.
But shortly after his 18th birthday, Giordano was working for a Lyndhurst plumbing company when he was run over by a forklift, ending his life all too soon.
“Since it’s the 20th anniversary of our graduating class and the 20th since ‘Gio’ died, we wanted to do something special this year,” said Natosi-Richmond, who was a standout softball player in her high school days.
With the help of Giordano’s close friend and classmate Ed Bartulovich, Natosi-Richmond has organized a fundraising event, called the Sports Challenge and Pasta Dinner, which will be held Saturday night, April 21, at the North Bergen Recreation Center on Meadowview Avenue and 64th Street, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
All of the proceeds from the evening will go to the Anthony Giordano Scholarship Fund, which has been in existence since the untimely passing of “Gio” in 1987.
“We wanted to do something that was sports-related,” Natosi-Richmond said. “Since Anthony was such a great athlete, we came up with this idea of a sports challenge.”
There will be a host of different events that the competitors (all 21 years old and over, please) will be asked to do, like a free-throw shooting contest for basketball, a softball throw, and a football toss.
“We’re giving all the old-timers a chance to relive their glory and compete in these events,” Natosi-Richmond said. “There will be a point system and the top 10 men and women finishers in the events will compete in a tug-of-war at the end of the night.”
Sounds like it’s time to break out the Ben-Gay.
“The response has been very positive,” Natosi-Richmond said. “We’ve already received a lot of different donations that we’re going to raffle off, like Yankees and Jets tickets and gift certificates to local restaurants.”
A ticket of $25 gets you into the door and enables you to participate in the events. For a donation of $50, you will also receive a commemorative T-shirt.
Hashway’s Deli and Catering on Kennedy Boulevard in North Bergen has donated the food, and Jimmy D’s Blues Saloon has donated two kegs of beer for the festivities.
Natosi-Richmond, whose husband, Gary, is a captain with the North Bergen Police Department, said that the township has been very helpful in getting the event off the ground.
“Mayor [Nicholas] Sacco has been unbelievable with his generosity,” Natosi-Richmond said. “They’ve given us the use of the Rec Center and the field [Stan Newman Field] for the night. The Police Department, through Gary and Chief Bill Galvin, has also been helpful. It’s really beginning to come together and should be a fun event.”
For more information about purchasing tickets and possible donations, please call Ed Bartulovich at (516) 351-0107 or Natosi-Richmond at (201) 401-9638. You can also write an e-mail to NBclassof87reunion@yahoo.com. Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or email@example.com