Sports

Chatham's St. Patrick School Lung Transplant Recipient Honored at Finn Classic

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In center from left to right:  Dan Finn, Josh Fernandez, Buay Koka, Todd Decker
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JERSEY CITY, NJ - Josh Fernandez, a Chatham resident and St. Patrick School student, was a special guest along with his family and team, at the Dan Finn Classic held Jan. 16 in the Jersey City Armory,

After a lifelong illness, Fernandez received a double lung transplant last May, and has enjoyed a remarkable recovery since. He is currently an active member of the St. Patrick School 7th Grade basketball team and his story was widely covered by local media this Fall. 

When Chatham resident Todd Decker saw Fernandez's story, he was moved. Decker is a basketball coach at The Patrick School in Elizabeth, the No. 2 ranked high school boys team in the state and among the top ranked schools in the nation.

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Decker’s team has used Fernandez’s story as inspiration for their entire season. But when coach Decker’s team was invited to play in the Dan Finn Classic, he understood a profound connection and he took action.

A two sport star in high school, Dan Finn was a recent graduate of Fordham University, when on Aug. 12, 2004 he was struck by a car and killed while on vacation with his family. 

Finn’s parents made the courageous decision to allow Dan’s organs to be donated for the benefit of others. This generosity led to saving and improving many people’s  lives.  Dan’s legacy has continued since, through the Dan Finn Foundation, and includes the annual tournament in his name.

Coach Decker recently contacted St. Patrick School when his team was included to compete in the Dan Finn Classic, and invited Fernandez and the entire 7th grade team to be his team’s guests for their matchup with No. 1 ranked St. Anthony.

Tournament and Foundation Chairman Ed Finn (Dan’s Dad) and Coach Decker made inspirational halftime speeches, and the Patrick School team presented Josh with a team-autographed game ball and official team jersey.

Fernandez is a living example of the incredible generosity and courage it takes to become an organ donor. The connection between Josh and the Dan Finn Classic was powerful and was felt by the capacity crowd attending the game.

The Dan Finn Classic is held annually at the Jersey City Armory.  The full day of games features the top boys and girls basketball teams in New Jersey.  The Dan Finn Foundation site is http://danfinnclassic.com/

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