It's been almost two years since Stephen Farrell of River Edge lost his fight with melanoma cancer. Diagnosed in 1998, he spent many years dedicating his life to his children and the RiverDell youth by coaching various athletic leagues from soccer, basketball, baseball and softball.
This year, Farrell's family along with members from the Regional high school boys lacrosse and wrestling teams along with the youth Blackhawks will participate in the River Edge Run in his honor while raising funds for the Susan Fazio Foundation for Melanoma Research.
"Since his initial diagnosis in 1998 Steve fought to raise awareness and funds for melanoma research," Maryann Farrell wrote on her team page. "In 2002 after his second bout with melanoma he began the" Miles for Melanoma" program when he ran in the NYC marathon. Steve was a courageous dad who fought the disease with a vengeance and vowed to continue the fight. No one else should have to go through what our wonderful dad, husband, brother, uncle, friend and coach went through since his first diagnosis in 1998."
The funds will be used to fund melanoma programs at NYU Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering and The Susan Fazio Foundation's educational and research initiatives for melanoma.
"Many years ago, when I was in college, I was a referee for 3rd and 4th grade boys and girls basketball," Head Boys Lacrosse coach Brian Rendine said. The entire boys lacrosse team will participate in the run and have set a goal of raising $5,000 in Farrell's honor. "As I am sure many of you have seen with youth sports, there is a penalty/foul on every single play. If I called every foul, we would have been there for hours waiting for the game to finish, so I had to let some (most) fouls go and only call the most egregious. This was often met with hostility, to put it lightly, from opposing coaches. As I firmly believe, you are a sum of your life experiences and need to make the best of what was given you and hold onto the lessons learned. Many nights I would head home in the worst of moods after being reamed out by coaches for a couple of hours. Mr. Farrell would often make sure that these coaches were not getting to me and would tell me that I was doing a good job. I can assure you that he had no idea what impact he was having on me and that to this day I often think back to this experience, which ultimately had a profound impact on who I am and how I treat players, parents, coaches, officials, students, etc., and reference his kindness displayed to me. I can say without hesitation that he had taught me an invaluable lesson on kindness and appreciation of others. I am forever grateful."
A vibrant, active member of the community, Farrell was a graduate of Iona College and president of the Farrell Media Group in River Edge. A Parishioner of St. Peter the Apostle RC Church he was a coach for the River Edge Recreation Basketball, AAU Basketball, River Dell Soccer, River Dell Blackhawks, River Edge Little League, Regal Basketball, and Softball.
"In my 43 years of teaching and coaching at River Dell, Steve is amongst the very best student/athletes that I have come across," head golf coach Jose Ortiz said. "He was very friendly and respectful. Steve put up a great fight against his disease. During his illness I would run into him in church and he was always upbeat and positive. A great role model for his kids. It was my honor to have been his friend."
While Farrell's contributions to the RiverDel athletic community came through coaching, his brother Timmy ran cross country and track at the regional high school and his sister Jane Farrell Kirk as a freshman was a member of the first Girls Varsity Track Team in 1979, and for many years she held the school record for the high jump.
"Most of have been teammates with Matt Farrell in one sport or another since kindergarten,," U17 Blackhawks coach Brian Hartman said. "This is not the first time Team Farrell has come together for a run."
For the Blackhawks squad, many of the athletes took part in the Morristown Melanoma run following Farrell's death to support teammate Matthew and the rest of the family. And while the Blackhawks will be running in support of Matt, the Golden Hawks wrestlers intend to come out and support Megan, who served as one of the stat girls this past season.
"She was totally dedicated even making it though the snow to be at Hasbrouck Heights as Coach Tota mentioned at the dinner and always made sure the boys had brownies to snack on after matches," Rocco Rizzo, President of the Wrestling Boosters Club said. "So, it would really be extra special if all of us could find a way to support Megan as she did the wrestling team."
Farrell is survived by his wife Maryann and children Megan, Matthew, and Luke; brothers Michael and his wife Becky of Conn., Bill and his wife Beth of New York, Tim and his wife Deidre of Colorado, sister Jane Kirk of River Edge, and 29 nieces and nephews.