Teen With Heart Condition Praises Fort Lee Mayor For Compassion, Friendship
Letter to the editor from 15-year-old John Santino Damato: "I want him and the people of Fort Lee to know how lucky we are to have him as our Mayor."
To the Editor:
Re: Fort Lee Mayor a Man of the People
I first met Mark Sokolich when I was in kindergarten. I went to school with his son Devin, and over the past ten years Devin has become my best friend. During this time, his dad, Mark Sokolich, has become a very important part of my life.
When I first met Mark, I remember being afraid because he seemed to be so big and had a very loud voice. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the biggest part of Mark was his heart. From the moment I met Mark, he made me feel like I was part of his family. Mark has been a presence in Fort Lee sports and schools for as long as I can remember. Mark coached me in sports and taught me about leadership and kindness. His wife Denise was always there at Fort Lee # 4 School as one of our class moms.
When I think of Mark I think of a man who is kind, helpful, caring, understanding, patient, and loving to all the people within the community. Mark has gone out of his way to help so many kids in Fort Lee. Even the kids that are not so nice.
Being the Mayor of a town is a huge sacrifice. Over the past several years, Mark has sincerely and honestly devoted his life to making Fort Lee a better community for young people and old people alike. While working to make Fort Lee a better place for its people, he has had to sacrifice a lot hours with his family and from his own law business. I admire Mark for so many reasons, one of which is the compassion he has shown for the needs of others. Going out of his way to help anyone in need. Believe me I know this first hand.
I am 15 years old and have congenital heart disease. This past summer I had two open-heart surgeries. Mark Sokolich was right there beside me and my family every step of the way. It didn’t matter how busy he was with work. He found the time to come to the hospital and be with me, talk to me, make me feel safe at a time when I was scared. He sat with my mom and dad. He helped my mom in so may other ways. Never once did he hesitate. He got up early to drive my dad and sister to the hospital on the day of my surgery. Mark even found time to text me and tell me he cared.
I do not know of any man as good and kind as Mark Sokolich. I may not be the smartest kid but I watch and read everything about history and politics. Being in politics can mean losing who you are; your integrity, dignity, and compassion for people. Not Mark, he has been a Mayor that people of all ages in Fort Lee can be proud of.
I am grateful everyday that Mark is part of my life. I have a scary future with my heart problems and I do not know what the future holds for me, but I do know I want to be a man like Mark Sokolich. I want him to know that the love and support he showed me and my family has helped me get through the scariest days of my life. I want him and the people of Fort Lee to know how lucky we are to have him as our Mayor. How lucky I am to have him as my friend. I want him to know that I love him. He is like my family. I am happy that I have Mark in my corner for the next battle I have to face with my heart.
John Santino Damato
Editor's note: John's mother tells Patch that he is currently a Fort Lee High School student, but that because of his health condition, the school is sending tutors to his home. She hopes he will return to half days soon and eventually full-time. Patch wishes John all the best for a speedy and full recovery.
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