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Finding hope in tragedy - three young lives cut short by horrific car crash

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Jaime Malone, Michael Mulhall and Paige Malone
They are named Lynch and Galvin and Murphy and Mulhall and Malone.  Many of them are twentysomethings still in college or just completing college, and they live in Floral Park, a tight-knit section of Nassau County.  Many of their Irish American parents and grandparents grew up in Woodside and other Irish enclaves of Queens before moving out to Long Island.

One year ago, Floral Park was thrust into sadness when three of its brightest lights died in a car accident on the Meadowbrook Parkway.  The three victims, along with two other friends, were on their way to work at Camp Anchor, which serves disabled children and adults.

This Saturday, friends and family of the victims – many Irish American – have organized a special event at St. John’s University to remember their lost friends, raise money for causes that were dear to them, and console each other on this terrible anniversary.

“It’s really a community event.  We thought it would be a nice way to expand on Jaime and Michael and Paige’s love for athletics and charity events,” family friend Matt Galvin told the Irish Voice.

Galvin said he is one of about 40 people who have pitched in to help main organizer Joe Lynch create the Malone-Mulhall benefit basketball game.  The game will be held at 1 p.m. this Saturday, July 30, and will feature top-flight professional and college athletes, including Danny Green of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, Justin Burrell and Malik Boothe of St. John’s and Tyrone Nash of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish.

In addition, New York City native and Irish American Mike Breen – the New York Knicks play-by-play broadcaster – will serve as host.

According to Galvin, money raised by the event will go to the Jaime and Page Malone Foundation, which was founded to help families in distress. Funds will also go to Camp Anchor.

“Physical education is a large part of the work done at Camp Anchor, and a day could hardly go by that you wouldn’t see Mike having a catch with a young child with Down’s syndrome, or Jamie teaching one of her campers with autism how to play soccer,” reads the event web site www.mmbenefitgame.com.

“It was a rarity not to find Paige chasing after one of her 6-year-old campers who had taken off with a basketball, insistent that the lines on the court had little bearing on the actual game.”
Reaction to the Malone-Mulhall benefit game has been strong.

“We knew we couldn’t have it at a local high school gym,” said Galvin, who added that while at least 1,000 spectators are expected, strong interest as the event approached this week could push the crowd to 3,000.
The world changed for so many Floral Park families on the morning of July 14, 2010.

Sisters Paige, 19, and Jaime, 22, Malone, friend Kelly Murphy, and Michael Mulhall headed off to Camp Anchor for another day of work.  Justine Mulhall, Michael’s sister, was driving.

Authorities said she lost control of the car.  The Malone sisters, as well as Michael Mulhall, 22, died in the wreck.

The kids in the car did not only have their whole lives ahead of them, they were willing to share their lives with others.

"This wasn't just a job for them, it was a lifestyle," a Camp Anchor coordinator later said.  A parent added, "They committed a huge part of their lives to helping our children.”

The benefit game is a fitting way to mark the memory of these selfless young adults, said Galvin.  The Malones’ father, Jim, is the basketball coach at Beach Channel High School in Queens.

On the day of the accident, as a way to cope, family members went to a nearby park to forget their sorrow and play basketball.

Paige Malone's boyfriend Joe Lynch was among those at the Malone house that day, and came up with the idea of a sporting event to remember Michael, Jaime and Paige, as well as to raise money.

“They had a love for athletics and passion for helping others, and we’re trying to emulate what they did,” said Galvin, who is 22 and just graduated from Tufts University.

Tickets are still available for the event.  For more details or to donate go to www.mmbenefitgame.com.

(Contact “Sidewalks” at tomdeignan@earthlink.net or facebook.com/tomdeignan)

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