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Thanks, Dad: On Father's Day, LI athletes show their appreciation to dads on front line of coronavirus pandemic

Baldwin senior boys basketball player Kamani Jones stands

Baldwin senior boys basketball player Kamani Jones stands with his father, Michael. Credit: Kamani Jones

Each Father’s Day, Newsday invites Long Island high school student-athletes to honor their dads with personal letters.

This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked for letters to fathers who are on the frontline as health-care workers, first responders and essential workers.

In these letters, one can feel the admiration, love and respect these young adults have for what their fathers accomplish in their professions. And somehow, these men — like so many more — find ways to take care of their families.

Happy Father’s Day!

— Gregg Sarra

TO: Oraneau Phillippe, Stony Brook Veterans Nursing Home

FROM: Jovany Phillippe, Whitman, Jr., football, track

Isabelle Phillippe, Whitman, Jr., track

Dear Dad,

We just wanted to say thank you for your guidance and love you have given us. We are the people we are today because of you. You have taught us the value of hard work, importance of integrity, and have shown us the importance of the simplest gifts of life. Having a dad like you, we are proud to hold our heads up high. We are proud to say that our father, a man of strength, is kind. You are a man whom everyone can look up to. You have taught us so much in life that our only wish is to be able to use these lessons as we grow and to see how proud you are of us. As we move forward in life, we will always carry you in our hearts wherever we may be. You are the guiding force in our lives, and we are so lucky to call you dad. We saw you getting ready for work every day, even though you could’ve said no, and could have quit but you felt a sense of responsibility. You knew that you had to be there, and your presence would make a difference every day. You showed the importance of resiliency and going forward, even when things seemed daunting. I know the values you instilled in us will carry us forward. We love you dad.

Love, Isabelle and Jovany  

TO: Tom Verga, Police Officer, Nassau County Aviation Unit

FROM: Tom Verga, Floyd, Sr., football, baseball

Dear Dad,

There are few words to express how truly grateful I am to have you in my life. You have always been my number one supporter and biggest fan. You have encouraged me to work hard and follow my dreams while being by my side every step of the way. Even during difficult times like these, you continue to deliver. Your job is never easy. This is especially true during this pandemic, when you have been working long and difficult hours to ensure the safety of others. The sacrifices that you make by continuing to operate helicopters and carry out important search missions in times when our communities need it the most is truly unbelievable. What is even more amazing, is that regardless of these arduous days, you continue to make time for me. I truly appreciate you throwing batting practice to me, and helping me with difficult tasks around the house, despite your fatigue from long days of work. Thank you for always going above and beyond for me and being my biggest role model. Happy Father’s Day Dad! I love you!

Love, Thomas

TO: Jaime Yun; Chief Thoracic Surgeon, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and Kings County Hospital Center

FROM: Lauren Yun, Manhasset, Sr., lacrosse

Dear Dad,

I want to wish you a Happy Father’s Day because you are the one person in my life that deserves it the most. Our community, our family and I are extremely grateful for your dedication to the well-being of others. Hearing you wake up at 3 a.m. for emergency surgeries, and not coming home until 10 p.m., brings me great pride, and you’re a perfect role model. Especially during this time, I don’t think there is anything that could equate to what you have been doing during this pandemic. I can’t express enough gratitude for essentially risking your life to help others. However, it is not just what you do in the hospitals that inspires me. It is the kind of person you are behind your N-95 mask and full-body protection. What you may call “fulfilling your duty”, I call “being superhuman”. You come home from a full, stressful day and leave behind all the morbid energy, take care of the three of us at home and bring a smile to Mom’s, Chris’, and my face with your infectious laugh. In addition to your charisma, you always know to push me beyond what I think my capacity is because you know my true potential. I am so fortunate to know that I always have you and your support behind me whether it is regarding academics or athletics. I am proud to call you my dad because of the funny, intelligent, and kindhearted person you are.

I love you forever, Lauren  

TO: Christian Eiring, Postal clerk

FROM: Matthew Brown-Eiring, Connetquot, Sr., baseball.

Dear Dad,

You have been the backbone to my success and have played a tremendous role in shaping me into who I am today. Thank you for everything you’ve done. I don’t know where I’d be without your continuous support and dedication to my baseball career. You have done everything and more than I could have ever asked for. Even when times were tough you were always there supporting and doing whatever you could to make me a better player and most importantly a better person. Being an essential worker through this crazy time in history has put a lot of stress on you, even though you would never admit it, yet you still put in the work with me as much as you can to continuously push me to any goal that I want to achieve. I could not thank you enough for that and it means the world to me. You, and Peeps (my grandfather), have been two of the main reasons behind any success that I have had. It is never a dull moment when I spend time with you. Thank you for everything, and for working so hard to provide me with anything that I’ve ever needed. Happy Father’s Day dad. I love you,

Matthew  

TO: Donald Karnich, Suffolk County Police Officer

FROM: Joe Karnich, Sachem North, Sr., lacrosse, soccer

Dear Dad,

Thank you for being an amazing dad. I know you love being a police officer because you always say that you love going to work. As hard as you work, you somehow have always managed to be around for anything that was important. First, thank you for taking the time to come to all my games, whether it be soccer or lacrosse. Thank you for driving hours to let me play in soccer tournaments. I know that it was not always easy to arrange things, but you always did. Thank you for all the overtime hours to help pay for my teams and showcases and for videoing all my lax games to make some awesome highlight tapes to help me find the perfect college. Thank you for your endless life lessons that I zone out on half the time. I am sure something sunk in. Thank you for all you do for me and for all you do as a police officer.

Love you, Joe  

TO: Jim Roberts, Physical Therapist, Merrick Physical Therapy

FROM: Jessica Roberts, St. Anthony’s, Sr., softball

Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for everything. Thank you for always pushing me to be better, whether it’s practicing for softball, getting good grades in the classroom, or just life in general. I want to thank you for all that you have done during this pandemic, for being there for your patients when they needed you the most. You’ve inspired me every single day to work hard for the things I want and to enjoy the moment, because nothing in life is guaranteed. You’ve never complained about driving me to early morning practices and tournaments. You believed in me, when I didn’t believe in myself. You’ve shaped me into the person I am today. You inspire me every day with your work ethic and love for what you do. Happy Father’s Day! I love you!

Love, Jessica  

TO: Michael Jones, MTA bus operator

FROM: Kamani Jones, Baldwin, Sr., basketball

Hi Dad,

I just want to let you know how much you mean to me and that you are my hero. I admire how loving, caring, understanding and brave you are. You are just the greatest dad in the world. You are always working even through this difficult time. My hat goes off to you. Even with your crazy schedule you always find the time to come to my games and all my important events. I can talk to you about anything and everything, whether it’s my games, school or any little problems. No matter what it is, you are always there to guide and give me advice. I am so lucky and blessed to have you for my dad and for the bond we share. I can always count on you to be there for me in good times or bad times. You are just the best and my biggest hero. I want to say THANK YOU, DAD, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Kamani  

TO: Glenn Tarquinio, Suffolk County Police Officer

FROM: AJ Tarquinio, Smithtown East, Sr., volleyball, hockey

Dear Dad,

As my senior year comes to a close and I look back on my younger years, I cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me. Whether it be driving me to an early bus for a volleyball game, or a week-long hockey tournament in Canada, I express gratitude for your actions. Even more so now as you continue to go to work every day, despite a global pandemic that threatens everyone’s health and safety. Constant 12-hour shifts aren’t easy, and you continue to work the overtime to ensure that everyone else is safe and sound. The sacrifice you make for others is not unsung. Thank you for responding to every call regardless of the circumstances, and the unknown. I love you and Happy Father’s Day!

Love, AJ  

TO: Joseph Bonafede, ENT doctor

FROM: Ben Bonafede, Chaminade, Jr., lacrosse

Dear Dad,

I am thankful for so many things you have taught me throughout my life. During these tough and uncertain times, you continue to lead by example through your amazing work ethic and dedication to your patients. It is somewhat ironic that the person who most inspires me to push myself in lacrosse is somebody that never played the game. You never taught me how to throw a behind-the-back pass or how to shoot the ball hard. Luckily, your example taught me something much more important. Your work as an ear, nose and throat doctor is supported by your passion and resolve. You simply love what you do with your job. I know that when the going gets tough on the field or in the weight room, I can rely on your example to help me endure. For success in anything, doing is not enough. You have to love what you do. Thanks for teaching me that. Happy Father’s Day!

Ben  

TO: Anthony Giura, Pharmacist, St. Francis Hospital

FROM: Michela Giura, Sacred Heart, Sr., track

Dear Dad,

I wanted to write to you to show my appreciation for everything that you do, not only for me but for all of those around you. Although you make it look easy, I know that it is very difficult to risk your own health every day to improve the health of others. I am inspired by your dedication to your job and to our family by keeping us safe and happy. Not only do you work hard from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. every weekday, but you are also always willing to get up 6 hours later to either drive me to school when I miss the bus or accompany me on my morning runs or track workouts. Thank you. I remember when you first brought me to the pharmacy department at St. Francis when I was little and told me how you fill prescriptions; however, what really stuck with me was the kindness with which you treated your coworkers and their excitement to see you when you walked in. Because of this, I have always remembered to treat everyone with respect and be friendly to all those around me. Thank you for being my inspiration and the best dad in the world.

I love you, Michela (Miggy)  

TO: Sheldon Meikle, Director of Operations, Perfect Choice Staffing (healthcare staffing agency), Woodbury

FROM: Zachary Meikle, Elmont, Sr. football, lacrosse, track

Hi Dad,

Happy Father’s Day. I just want to acknowledge and thank you for everything that you do. Thanks for supporting me by showing up to my football games, track meets and lacrosse games. Thank you for supplying me with everything I need to succeed and for being a role model and providing for our family. Thank you for the things that you do for the community. I appreciate the sacrifices that you and Mommy have made to make sure the only thing my siblings and I have to worry about is our grades. I admire you and Mommy for working hard to put us in the position that we’re in. Unlike us, you had very little help growing up financially but were still able to persevere and ultimately pave the way for us. I only wish that one day I can be as, if not more, successful as you are and give back all that you have given to me. I commend you for the hours that you put in at work to provide for us. If you’re not working, you’re spending time with your family or volunteering your time and efforts to the community. It’s your relentless care and love, not only for your family but those around you, that make you a special father. Love you!

Respectfully, Zach 

TO: Armand P. Asarian, Surgeon, Brooklyn Hospital Center

FROM: Andre Asarian, Kellenberg, Sr., boys volleyball

Dear Dad,

Thank you for being not only an amazing father, but a great role model and inspiration for me throughout my whole life. As a young adult, I have witnessed your drive and passion - two words that sum up what it means to be a healthcare provider. Pursuing a career in the medical field just like you is in my blood. If I could do one thing with my life, it would be to follow in your footsteps. The moments we have shared, like the weekly drive to my EMT classes in Brooklyn, to supporting me in becoming a volunteer Firefighter/EMT. You encouraged me to complete my Eagle Scout project and we’ve bonded in a way I couldn’t imagine. As a certified EMT, I can see first-hand that the field of medicine needs people like you. During this COVID-19 pandemic, I realized that being an essential worker is a selfless and dedicated profession. I know that going to work every day to help those who are in need while exposing yourself to this deadly disease can be a challenge. Thank you for being a wonderful father and a truly inspirational doctor as well.

Love, Andre  

TO: Kirk Rogers, Fabricator, construction

FROM: Darienne Rogers, Islip, Sr., tennis

Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day to my biggest role model.Through thick and thin, you’re there for me and the rest of our family, always striving to be not only a dedicated worker, but father. Although recently it’s been stressful to go to work every day, you never fail to keep a clear head and push through, knowing it will soon get easier. I know that everything you sacrifice is to make our lives the best that they can be and I appreciate that beyond measure. I can only hope to one day have your patience and level-headedness when life doesn’t go as planned; those qualities are ones that make me want to be a better person. I know that sometimes I can be a pain and become concerned with my own problems over yours, but I’m working on that. You’ve shown me that as a family, when one person goes through something, everyone does. That’s why I want to recognize your courage for standing tall during this craziness and putting yourself at risk every day. I know that you do it with us in mind, so I thank you endlessly. I am so proud to call you my dad.

Love, Darienne  

TO: Joseph Dowling, Director of Security at Governor’s Island and retired NYPD Deputy Chief

FROM: Kevin Dowling, Sewanhaka, Sr., lacrosse, soccer

Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day. Thank you for all that you have done for me throughout my life. Thank you for risking your life every day for over 29 years and for always making time for me and my brothers. Although you had a tight schedule, you would always come play with us. Whether it was knee hockey, bike riding, or even a catch, it meant a lot. You steered me in the right direction. I respect your continued work through the coronavirus pandemic. Your sacrifices do not go unnoticed.

I love you, Kevin 

TO: Chris Boukas, Director Operations, Northwell Health’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center

FROM: Harrison Boukas, Plainedge, Sr., lacrosse

Dear Dad,

Thank you. Not for just being my Dad and providing me with a comfortable home and good food to eat, but for being my friend, my idol, and my inspiration. For as long as I can remember you have been supporting me with whatever I needed. When it was T-ball and I needed a coach, you were there so I could play for the first time. You spent countless hours practicing with me and helping me get better. Then it was lacrosse and it was so easy to tell you I wanted to make the switch from baseball to lacrosse because I knew you wanted me to be happy, and was that the right decision. Throughout our time together I’ve learned countless lessons and gained great life experiences - when push comes to shove - there’s no one else I’d rather call Dad.

Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

Harrison 

TO: Daniel Levy, Cardiologist, St. Francis Hospital; Mount Sinai South Nassau; Long Island Jewish Valley Stream (Northwell Health)

FROM: Hannah Levy, Great Neck South, Jr., gymnastics

Dear Dad,

I want to tell you how much I admire you for all your work, especially during this pandemic. I’m proud to have a dad who is saving lives and helping people every day. You inspire me to help others, and your career as a doctor has made me want to pursue a career helping others. Along with this, you are an incredible father. You always take the time to come to my games and meets even with your busy schedule, as well as cheering me on after wins and cheering me up after losses. You never fail to teach me lessons that make me a better person and that I will carry with me for my entire life. I’m so lucky to have a dad like you. Happy Father’s Day! I love you!

Love, Hannah

TO: Michael Capizzi, LIRR conductor

FROM: Sal Capizzi, Smithtown East, Jr., soccer

Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day! I know I don’t get to see you that often because you’ve been working so hard on the LIRR, but I want you and the rest of Long Island to know how much the Capizzi/Parrinelli family appreciate your efforts during these tough times. Although we don’t have the routine road trips to soccer games or my United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps drill weekends because of COVID-19, you continue to have a major impact on my life. You work nonstop to support our family, and you’ve motivated me to get through the rest of online school and begin my career. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for keeping our family on our feet. We wouldn’t be where we are without you. Have a great Father’s Day, you deserve it.

Love, Salvatore 

TO: Robert J. Illare, MTA Maintenance superintendent

FROM: Nick Illare, East Islip, Sr. bowling

Dear Dad,

There are no words to express how grateful I am to call you my Dad. Thank you for all the memories we have made and all you have taught me. You have led by example and showed me what’s important in life, like honesty, integrity, working hard, and knowing the value of friends and family. When you owned your own business and didn’t have much free time, what little time you had was spent with our family. You always made sure to show up at my baseball games, karate tournaments, and bowling matches. Even if it meant changing in the bathroom and dinner on the run, you were always there. I understand the limousine repair shop was your dream. However, you realized that your family needed your time more. You pursued a job at the MTA so that you could spend more time with me when I needed it the most. I know being an essential worker in this environment is scary for you. Not only are you an essential worker but to me you are my essential dad and I appreciate all that you do for me.

Happy Father’s Day! 

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