By Dawn M Chiossi
There’s no better time than the holiday season to demonstrate caring and helping out neighbors and friends. No better time to do something for others. And Roxbury’s Katz Family is doing just that with their 3rd annual Holiday House Display Fundraiser. They are inviting the public at large to come and enjoy their amazing holiday house display this year and help out a hero at the same time.
There’s something magical about seeing houses all aglow with lights at this time of the year. Truly there is nothing more festive, or inspiring. People collectively recall that delightful feeling from childhood, and it even carries into the adult years. Just seeing a house all adorned with lights brings joy to all who view it. And the Katz’s house is a veritable light show complete with music and festivity.
Recently completed, the Holiday House Display Fundraiser has celebrated its first weekend. People from all over are invited to view the over 40,000 lights display dancing along to coordinated music such as Trans-Siberian Orchestra and many other carols. But once enjoyed, it is asked that people make a donation to help Roxbury Police Patrolman Thomas Denicola who is battling cancer.
Denicola, a former Marine and 17 year veteran of the Roxbury Police Force ironically contracted the cancer known as Multiple Myeloma after stepping up to aid others. He was exposed to toxic chemicals as a result of being at Ground Zero at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Multiple Myeloma is a form of cancer that affects the plasma cells. It is the second most commonly diagnosed blood cancer after Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Generally, it is something doctors see in people in their 70’s not their 40’s. According to Denicola, he had just recently discovered he had the disease just recently in April during a routine police physical.
Springing into positive action, Denicola didn’t hesitate to attempt to combat his condition: He takes his chemo medications, goes for infusions regularly; he even has resumed exercising and has gone back to work, resuming his normal duties, and keeps a positive attitude through it all.
Though he isn’t sure what the future holds, he takes it all one day at a time counting his blessings.
“I’ve been very lucky,” he enthuses. And he mentions his family and his good friends that support him all the way.
Friends including Rob and Melissa Katz.
Denicola mentions that Katz was a former police officer himself, now a bus driver for Roxbury.
“When Rob first came to me about the idea for the fundraiser, I didn’t want him to do it,” he says humbly, “I didn’t want to call attention to myself. The fundraiser was something he did on his own and Rob just ran with it. “
Though building something like this can take a long time, not to mention patience and commitment, for the Katz family, this labor of love is all worth it.
The Holiday House Display Light Show is something of a tradition for the Katz’, hardly the first time that they have been putting up their display to help with a worthwhile cause, or their neighbors. Last year their Holiday House Light Show helped raised funds to support Roxbury 4th grader Matt Adonis, who was battling a brain tumor.
Located at 56 Parkview Drive in Succasunna, this light show is more than a staple of the holiday season, more than a good time, it is perfect way to rally around Denicola and embrace the reason for the season at the same time.
And the Katz’ put it perfectly when they say, “What better way to say thank you to a true American hero than by honoring him with 40,000 Christmas lights dancing to music.”
Recently, the Roxbury Police Department took part in No Shave November where they raised approximately $1,000 with proceeds going to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation to help save a life.
Denicola is honored by it all. He says of Katz and all of those who support him, “They have hearts of gold.”