An NYPD highway patrol officer helps deliver holiday cheer in Central Park to children battling cancer

Police officer Anthony Grosso of the NYPD Highway Patrol knows the uphill battle a cancer survivor faces — and he gave some holiday hope to young people battling the disease.

The Central Park Precinct hosted a holiday extravaganza for children battling cancer in hopes of alleviating the world’s worries for the holidays. Led by Grosso, a cancer survivor himself, the event was the perfect kick-off to Christmas week.

The NYPD K-9 unit happily took part in the festivities. Photo by Dean Moses

At the age of 14 Grosso was diagnosed with cancer and since his teens he has carried with him the sacrifices and obstacles he overcame. Knowing the toll such a diagnosis can take on a family, he aspired to give something back.

In partnership with the Candle Lighters Foundation and the First Responders Children’s Foundation, Grosso hosted the fun event for children undergoing the same cancer battle he had fought nearly two decades earlier.

His message to them: “You can shape this world too.”

Police Officer Anthony Grosso of the NYPD Highway Patrol led the event. Photo by Dean Moses

“We have gathered this day to bring revelry,” Grosso said. “I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 14. During that time, I had the opportunity to get the help of the highway patrol during treatments, surgeries, and all my follow-up appointments. As most of you here know, it’s not a quick process, but I had their support.”

The celebration brought Barbara Zobian, the founder and executive director of Candle Lighters Foundation, to tears. Photo by Dean Moses

Standing in full uniform, Grosso showed that there is light at the end of the tunnel and stated that he had always aspired to become a police officer, which he achieved nine years after his diagnosis. When he got emotional, he shared that he could give the same Highway Patrol escort to a little girl named Ava — a moment he describes as life “coming full circle.”

Magic tricks and other entertainment made the children laugh. Photo by Dean Moses

“Eighteen years ago, I was faced with something that no child, or anyone else, should experience. I had a great support system and now it’s my turn to give it back,” Grosso said with tears in his eyes. “With all that support, I can say that I am a police officer, husband and father.”

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea also made a surprise appearance. As he jogged through Central Park, he heard upbeat music from the local district. The top agent who retired stopped at the event and was overjoyed to discover the meaning behind the celebration.

Commissioner Dermot Shea was impressed by the event. Photo by Dean Moses The NYPD hosted a celebratory event in Central Park on December 19 for children battling cancer. Photo by Dean Moses

“The point is, these stories are all over New York City of people doing great things, coming together, working together, and there’s no greater purpose than these kids here today,” Shea said, adding that looking at the sheer joy at the The children’s faces show the true sense of hope.

“I think of hope, and I think of how we should do everything possible for them. When you look at these kids, they deserve every little bit of what they get from us, and God bless them,” Shea said.

The kids got to meet their superheroes. Photo by Dean Moses

The kids met superheroes like Captain America and Superman, were dazzled by magic tricks, played video games in the NYPD’s very own video game truck, and petted some of the four-legged officers of the division’s horse and K-9 units. Just when they thought the fun was over, Santa and Mrs Claus arrived with the help of a police escort.

Greeting the youths, Santa Claus showered them with gifts under a Christmas tree.

Santa Claus and Mrs Claus provided a festive atmosphere. Photo by Dean Moses

“I had the opportunity where I had family for this job, and they took care of me. But now I wanted to get back to more of the community, more people. Paying in advance is what it’s all about. And if I could touch the lives of all these kids, if they all beat cancer, hopefully they’ll all have the chance to do something similar,” Grosso told amNewYork Metro.

The NYPD Highway Patrol escorted Santa to the event. Photo by Dean Moses Mrs Claus waved to the families. Photo by Dean Moses

For those kids battling cancer and perhaps feeling alone, Grosso assures them they aren’t.

“I say keep fighting. It’s a hard fight. But it’s worth it. You’re going to get there. It will take time. But you have a bigger support system, more than you know. There are so many people and so many resources. And Candlelighters New York City is one of them Then the NYPD has plenty of resources so feel free to go to any district Look what we have There are always people and if you just want to talk to someone just find a cop said Grossso.

Mr and Mrs Claus got a police escort to the party. Photo by Dean Moses The Horse Unit of the NYPD. Photo by Dean Moses This little boy tested the strength of Captain America’s shield. Photo by Dean Moses

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