SPARTA, NJ — A young man of 14 turned a terrible situation into a life’s ambition. In March 2009 Nick Addesso and his mother Cindi were at a service in the Sparta Presbyterian Cemetery when she collapsed.

“One minute I was telling him to slow down and wait for me and the next I was having a heart attack,” Cindi Addesso said. “It is not what you want to have happen in front of your son, but he has turned it around.”

On Wednesday night the ambulance building was packed with EMTs, Cadettes, Sparta Ambulance Squad volunteers, Sparta Police Chief Neil Spidaletto and Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith, though most did not know why they had been invited.

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Captain John McChensey presided over the meeting, beginning with correspondence. The final bit of correspondence was a notebook sent to the Sparta squad by Nick Addesso. McChensey gave an emotional introduction before calling the young man to the front of the room.

Addesso read the book to the crowd. He explained how that day, watching from the front seat of the ambulance as the EMTs cared for his mother, he was inspired. He became an EMT in Hawthorne in 2014, where he has had three CPR saves and delivered a baby and is also a member of the New Jersey Mobile Heath Care Emergency Medical Services out of Mahwah. 

“Today I was on a call with a senior citizen and he looked at me and said, ‘you do good,’” Addesso said. 
“You all do good.”

“He was always a caring person,” his mother said. “In first grade he chose to sit with a friend who had a broken leg, instead of going out on the playground.”

Addesso is taking the next step, putting himself through nursing school. He has been accepted to the University of Colorado. He will do some of his general education classes on the Denver campus then transfer to the Anschutz Medical Campus to get his nursing degree. 

The two EMTs who saved his mother’s life in 2009 were in the room. Thom Holovacs and Barbara Nemeth responded to the emergency that day.

The evening was a surprise to Holovacs, who is in his 50 year as an EMT.   He was in the second class of EMTs in New Jersey.

“I went on 439 calls last year,” Holovacs said. He has had 350 calls so far this year. With that track record he can be forgiven for not remembering the call from nine years ago.

“It gave me goose bumps,” Nemeth said. “It amazes me what he’s done after that experience.”

Nemeth has not been active with the ambulance “for a while,” but she is training to get back in, having just passed her CPR exam.

“We get more out of it than we give,” Nemeth said.

“We wonder is what we do is recognized,” McChesney said. “Our actions have inspired this young man. His life was changed that day. He took it upon himself to pay it forward.”