UNION, NJ – Two Union police officers delivered a check for over $5,000 to the Special Strides therapeutic riding center in Monroe, the result of the department’s recent fundraising effort.

Police Officers Juan Vargas and Michael Loguidice presented Special Strides with a check for $5,160.55 from the sale of patches designed and sold by Union police.  The design of the patch combined the Union Police Department logo and autism puzzle pieces, which reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum.   The Special Strides scholarship program provides financial relief for patients to receive therapy.

In October, actor and advocate Chazz Palminteri paid a visit to the Union Police Department to surprise Officer Vargas, his wife Anna and sons Anthony, 16, and Aiden, 8, with a donation from the organization he runs, The Child Reach Foundation.  Palminteri’s foundation grants money to support doctors and hospitals for research and treatment of pediatric diseases as well as programs to benefit children and their families in need. 

Sign Up for Union Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Palminteri presented a $3,000 donation to the Vargas family, the first to a New Jersey police officer.  Shortly after his birth, Aiden Vargas was diagnosed as a nonverbal Autistic child with Noonan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that prevents normal development in various parts of the body, including unusual facial characteristics, short stature, heart defects, other physical problems and possible developmental delays.

Vargas found Special Strides in Monroe Township (www.specialstrides.com) where Aiden receives therapy by horseback riding. The motions of the horse help strengthen his muscles which should help straighten Aiden’s spine and shoulders. The therapy is not covered by insurance. Therapy sessions are expensive. 

Union police recognized some of the donors for their support including Union PBA Local 69, Union FOP Lodge 35, Union FMBA, Portuguese American Police Association, Lincoln Life Financial, and BCB Bank.

“This fundraiser would not have been as successful without everyone’s generosity,” said Union police.  “On behalf of our Department and Special Strides we wish you all a Happy holidays and thank you all for your continued support.”