WEST ORANGE, NJ - In a fitting tribute to two young men that died too young, the Michael T. McCormick, Jr. Foundation dedicated a memorial stone in the picnic area near Seton Hall Prep's Kelly Athletic Field on Nov. 2.
A crowd of friends and family gathered to remember the lives of Michael McCormick, Jr. and his best friend Vinnie Simone, who died in a tragic accident during a rainstorm on Eagle Rock Avenue on August 2, 2009, just one day after McCormick's 19th birthday.
Mike and Karen McCormick, along with their daughter Meghan, struggled to make sense of their great loss, and from their sorrow, the Michael T. McCormick, Jr. Foundation was born. To date the Foundation has distributed over $100,000 in scholarship monies to Seton Hall Prep students, graduating seniors, and college students.
After the boys' deaths, the accident site became a makeshift memorial for Mike and Vinnie, who had attended Redwood Elementary and Edison Middle Schools before attending SHP. While there, McCormick excelled in football and Lacrosse, and had just completed his first year at Penn State.
With the help of Monsignor Kelly and Mike Gallo at the Prep, the memorial stone, featuring etched likenesses of the boys' graduation photos and the Foundation's tag line, "Keep smiling down on us," was located "under a pine tree near the picnic tables where Michael frequently ate meals with his Lacrosse buddies," according to Michael's mother, Karen.
Members of the Essex Shillelagh Pipes and Drums opened the dedication which included comments from Mike McCormick and a prayer from Monsignor Edward Bradley.
Mike McCormick, Michael's dad, welcomed the attendees and provided heartfelt comments.
"As we gather in Michael’s field of dreams, where he realized many of his athletic achievements, we are united in spirit, united in devotion, and united in faith. It is our faith in God, our faith in each other and our faith in the future that all will be right one day, which makes our ties that bind so hopeful," he began.
"Let this monument, dedicated to Michael Thomas McCormick, Jr., be a shining example of our love, not just for Michael, but for all, especially those who have received and will receive an academic scholarship for their excellence from Michael’s Foundation.
Knowing his presence will carry on, as I’m sure he is with us right now, let us respectfully embrace the belief that Michael Thomas McCormick, Jr. epitomized the Seton Hall Prep motto, “Hazard Zet Forward”.
"It was such a wonderful day," said Karen McCormick.
For more information on the Michael T. McCormick, Jr. Foundation, visit their website at http://www.mtmjr.com/.