Hundreds gathered at the St. John of God Roller Hockey rink in Central Islip Saturday to celebrate the life of Billy Moon, an FDNY firefighter from Islip who died of head injuries sustained in a 20-foot fall at his Brooklyn firehouse Dec. 12.
The presence of Moon, a volunteer coach in the league, could be felt in every corner of the rink during a day of hockey in his honor, from his name on the scoreboard to his last name and favorite number, 88, on the back of each jersey. Proceeds from the event will benefit the late firefighter’s family.
“It was started because of his friends and everyone in the league wanting to do something for him,” said Moon’s wife, Kristina. “To me, this is amazing.”
As the first of four exhibition games began — a matchup of women affiliated with the league, from players’ moms to coaches’ wives — the Moon family was everywhere, too. Kristina and kids Brianne, 11, and Colin, 9, greeted the friends and neighbors who showed their support, as Billy’s parents watched the action from the stands. His sister, Chrissy Van Steen, played in the opener, netting a goal and MVP honors.
Three more exhibitions were set to follow, with league coaches and parents playing fire department teams from the FDNY and Islip, where Moon volunteered. The East Islip and Central Islip departments were set to square off in the finale.
“We’ve been mourning him for the past few months, so today is to celebrate,” said event organizer and league commissioner Anthony Ceccarini, of Holbrook.
Ceccarini and Kristina Moon said it made the day extra special having people not just from St. John of God, a nonprofit league of more than 50 years, where Billy coached and Colin has played, but also his fire departments and the surrounding communities.
Firefighter friends said a day of family, service and hockey was an appropriate way to remember Moon, 47, a New York Islanders fan who lived a selfless life.
“Billy was the one who ran anything hockey-related for our firehouse,” said Tom Conforti of Rocky Point and FDNY Engine 275 in Jamaica, the community Moon served before joining elite Rescue Company 2 in Brooklyn last year.
“We do everything as one big family,” added Brian Cross of Islip Terrace, who served with Moon in Ladder 133 in Jamaica.
Islip firefighter Kenny Dolan said Moon touched many lives in life and death. A sign at the event urged guests to register to donate their organs, as Moon did.
“Even with his passing, donating his organs and saving five people's lives, it just leaves you speechless,” Dolan said.
It’s a similar sentiment to one echoed by Moon’s kids over the generosity of their community Saturday.
“I think it’s cool,” said Brianne, noting that it’s not just friends and family, but also some strangers who came out to celebrate her dad.
“I’m just glad everyone’s having fun,” added Colin.