Neighborhood keeps young man’s memory alive

reporter photo

Household goods, antiques, clothing – even a RV – were sold at a tag sale to raise money for scholarships and donations to families in need through the Christopher Labbadia Memorial Fund.

“It was neighbors wanting to help neighbors,” said Joseph McGowan, who helped organize the Brownstone Road tag sale, which generated approximately $1,300 on June 16. “Everybody pulled together and helped in some way.”

Many residents donated items to be sold, volunteered their time or sold items themselves and donated the proceeds to the fund.

Rocco Labbadia said the fund was started to continue the passion and joy of his son, Christopher Labbadia, who died in January 2016 in a car crash. He was 19.

“Even though he’s not here anymore he's trying to do good things for people,” Labbadia said. “What’s really great is it keeps his spirit alive.”

“I think it brings the community closer together,” said McGowan, who lives three houses down Brownstone Avenue from the Labbadias. “Chris was always a good kid around the neighborhood.”

The tag sale was held just days after the memorial fund gave its third annual $1,000 scholarship to Berlin High School senior Ryan Toce.

The fund has donated some $15,000 through the scholarship and giving money to families struggling with the loss of a loved one, including newborns. “We like to celebrate the gift of life,” Labbadia said.

The awarding of the scholarship is based on an essay contest for Berlin High School students where they write about their time at the school and their connection to the values Chris Labbadia lived by.

Rocco Labbadia and his daughter, Brittany Labbadia, independently read through the submissions and choose who they feel should be the winner. Since the contest began, they’ve been in agreement each year.
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