Overcoming A Past With Giant Obstacles
Jul 16, 2014Posted by james

He was abandoned in Jamaica, Queens. He was just three months old. Today, he responds with a “not really” when asked about any relationship with his biological parents.

Jason Craig Bromley, Jr.’s mother was a drug addict. He arrived as a crack baby. His father was in prison for manslaughter and unlawful imprisonment. Jason was rescued by his aunt, his father’s sister, who already had three young daughters and was in the midst of studies to become a nurse.

Though family came to his rescue, growing up, at times, was tough for Jason. He went through an angry stage and constantly got into fights. When he was a teenager, Jason’s aunt shipped him out of the neighborhood each day for his own good to ensure he received an education at Flushing High School. The aunt recalled that free time never was an option. It could only lead to trouble.

Football filled some of the time. His high school coach recently remembered Jason as a sloppy kid, chubby and with more fat than muscle, but that he had raw talent for such a big guy.

Jason found his niche and worked at it. He didn’t cause any further trouble and he didn’t drink. He concentrated on preparing properly to compete on the field and court (he played basketball in high school, too). He then played football as a star defensive tackle at Syracuse University.

All that work now has paid dividends. Jason, who is just 22, soon may become a household name in New York sports circles. He was chosen by the New York Giants as the 74th player selected in the most recent NFL draft.

From a doorstep and an uncertain future to one of the best franchises in the National Football League, Jason has found the strength to overcome obstacles. Jason is clear and honest with himself when he states that a person never forgets his background. These include all the experiences and what a person has seen while growing up. All of it, the good and bad, he said, helps shape the adult—the person Jason is today and the one he will be in the future.


More Than Just Another Insurance Guy
Jul 03, 2014Posted by james

Ed Petrazzolo never attended Notre Dame University. But, a few months ago, he was overjoyed to meet Brian Kelly, the head coach of the Irish, during the Notre Dame Club of Staten Island’s 25th anniversary celebration.

That night, Kelly and many others honored Ed for his commitment to his family, his faith, his country and his community. The club presented its highest honor to the 90-year-old one-time athlete and war veteran for “devotion to the ideals and spirit” of the university and for a life that “clearly reflects the values and mission of Our Lady’s University.”

Instead of attending college, Brooklyn-raised Ed fought his way across Europe during World War II as part of the 371st Ordinance Battalion of the First Army. He landed at Utah Beach a few days after D-Day, participated in the liberation of France, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, crossed the Rhine River and helped liberate survivors at the Nordhausen concentration camp.

Before the war, Ed had been a pretty good and promising baseball player. He was a lefty pitcher who signed with the rival Yankees, but his sports career, as with so many at the time, was placed on hold for the war. So were his plans for higher education. When he returned from Europe, he made it to the AAA Newark Bears. But, with a first child on the way soon after, baseball at that time would not have been the best career choice to support his family.

So, Ed became a proofreader and he worked with the New York Journal-American for 25 years. Then, he switched careers to enter, of all things, the insurance business. By then, Ed and his wife had moved from Brooklyn to Staten Island. He became active immediately in that borough’s community affairs, supporting veterans groups, youth baseball camps and activities at his local church. Somewhere during all of this he became involved with the Notre Dame Club.

One of Ed’s fondest memories is not of baseball, his newspaper work, or even his success in insurance. Instead, he remembered a chance meeting with a young Belgian student during the war. The student had been deported for civil unrest and then liberated from a camp. Ed assisted him with clothes and a pistol for protection as the student had to walk miles upon miles to his home.
“I went back again 60 years later in 2005,” Ed told a local newspaper, “and located him and spent some time discussing things. He said he had me always in his mind.”

During his travels through baseball, war, the newspaper business and insurance, a commitment to support others became deeply imbedded within the soul of Ed Petrazzalo. It is fitting that such an institution as Notre Dame has recognized Ed for his life-long contributions to so many people.