Jon Ledecky was equal parts eloquent, emotional and emphatic.
Being a part of the Islanders' fifth Stanley Cup championship is extremely high on the co-owner’s to-do list. So, too, is helping oversee a franchise that has deep ties to its communities and those who are tasked with keeping it safe.
“When [principle owner] Scott Malkin, [co-owner] Dewey Shay and I were able to purchase the team from Charles Wang, we knew that we were becoming part of a community trust, and that we’re stewards of that trust,” Ledecky said during a ceremony at the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill Wednesday afternoon in which he presented the families of NYPD Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo and NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen with memorabilia, and invited them to join him at UBS Arena for Thursday night’s game against the Rangers.
Following the visit to the 102nd, Ledecky stopped at Firehouse 264, 328, and Ladder 1617 in Far Rockaway to give gifts to the family of FDNY firefighter Jesse Gerhard, as well as inviting them to the game, during which first responders and their families will be honored.
Tuozzolo, Simonsen, and Gerhard all died in the line of duty. Tuozzolo, who was from Huntington, in November 2016, Simonsen, who was from Calverton/Riverhead, in February 2019, and Gerhard, who was from Long Beach, this past February.
During Wednesday’s events, Tuozzolo was represented by his wife Lisa, and the couple’s two sons, Joey, 10, and Austin, 9, while Leanne Simonsen stood for her husband. Gerhard’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law were expected to be in attendance when Ledecky visited the firehouse.
“It’s really exciting to be able to represent my husband and watch him be honored by our hometown team. It’s been quite the experience today that my boys and I have had, and we’ve really enjoyed it,” said Lisa Tuozzolo, who later added her sons “don’t even know how lucky they are and what an honor and experience they’re about to embark on. So I’m really excited for them and we’ll see how the night ends up and what a wonderful evening it’s going to be.”
“Every night is first responder’s night,” Ledecky said. “We recognize a military hero and and we talk about heroes in the community. ...Through the mechanism of having a sports team we’re trying to put a light on the real everyday working heroes who will make a difference in our lives. Being an owner of a sports team is an incredible honor and it’s an opportunity to do good in the community.”