UNION, NJ – Union came out in force on Thursday evening to help a retired Union police officer who is battling a debilitating disease. Hundreds of people showed their support to the beneficiary of this year’s “Taste of Union”: Union police officer Dave Cuozzo.
“I’m overwhelmed at how many people came out tonight,” said Cuozzo, “police, firemen, everyone. They don’t forget. I want to thank them all.” In addition to being surrounded by friends and peers, Cuozzo was joined at the event by his wife Lisa, daughters Christina and Danielle, and son Vincent. His son Rich was unable to attend.
“That we can help someone in our community who is less fortunate than we are is a gift,” said event committee chairwoman Phyllis Monguso. “This year is special because Dave protected us for all those years and maybe we can help make his life a little better.” Monguso said the “Taste of Union” has raised over $185,000 since its inception 12 years ago.
Five years ago, Couzzo, a 25-year police veteran and father of four, found himself paralyzed and fighting for his life. He was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis which causes inflammation and damage to the spinal cord. Transverse Myelitis interrupts the messages that the spinal cord sends throughout the body. It causes pain, muscle weakness, paralysis, sensory problems and organ dysfunction or failure. The spinal cord and nerve damage caused by Transverse Myelitis can be devastating.
In 2014, Cuozzo’s Police Department family rallied with his other friends to make some interim home improvements to the family home. An elevator was installed in his garage so that he could get in and out of his home for therapy and doctor visits via his motorized wheelchair and van. An accessible bathroom was also added to the first floor living area. His friends and co-workers painted his home and gave it a minor makeover. The family dining room was converted to a makeshift bedroom and family TV room where Duozzo sleeps in a hospital bed and receives therapy.
Cuozzo recently had a consultation with a physician involved with stem cell research trials. Preliminary cost estimates for the treatment are about $10,000. There are no guarantees and some risks, but Cuozzo and his family remain hopeful.
Restaurants participating in the 2019 “Taste of Union” included Applebee’s, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Café Z, Carvel, Chick-fil-A, Cioffi’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, Cozy Corner, Dava, Glendale Pizzeria, Johnny Napkins, Kyoto Sushi II, La Suegra Gusto Y Sabor Colombiano, Lagar Bar and Restaurant, Mario’s Tutto Bene, Mark Twain Diner, Red Cadillac, Rio Rodizio, Stop & Shop, Savalis Café, Taste of Flava, Tex Mex El Chingon, Tiff’s Burger & Ale House, and Whole Foods Market.