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The Christmas Day Post-Gazette contained a news obituary for Sean Malley, the Shaler sports teams enthusiast who was born with Down syndrome ("Sean Malley: 'Like This Piece of Gold That You Want to Hold Onto,' " Dec. 25). I am writing to tell you about an "all-star" gesture toward Sean many years ago.
In the late 1980s, I was an assistant to Richard Rizzo, the head hockey coach at Allderdice. Mr. Rizzo was selected by the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League to be its coach at that year's (1989) all-star game at Mt. Lebanon between the best players from the WPIHL and the South Hills Interscholastic Hockey League (at that time there were multiple high school leagues and the best players from each league met annually in this game). Because Sean hung around with the Shaler players, he was invited to watch the game from the bench of the scorer's table. At the conclusion of the game, Sean stood on the ice as all the players and coaches received their medals.
Most people who receive medals keep them as memories of past accomplishments. But not Mr. Rizzo. He took his medal and placed it around Sean's neck. With his face beaming, it was clear that Sean was proud of the moment and proud of that medal!
The greatest acts of kindness are those that are given with no expectations of anything in return. In reflecting on the PG story about Sean and that game many years ago, my greatest memory was not the score of that game, but Mr. Rizzo's spontaneous gesture toward Sean.
First Published December 29, 2012 12:00 am