Former McClancy star remembered in Classic
October 5, 2009 was the worst day of Melinda Murray’s life. That’s when her only child, Dominic, died after collapsing on the basketball court during an open gym at Farmingdale State College.
He was just 17.
It was that tragedy that spurred Melinda into action, from mourning mother to determined activist. She formed the Dominic A. Murray Memorable Foundation, a not-for-profit organization and helped organize the first annual DomHeart21Classic, a two-day event that was held at Dominic’s two schools – Monsignor McClancy and Farmingdale State College.
“It’s truly amazing,” said Lou Xifaras, a former McClancy assistant coach and board member of the Dominic A. Murray Memorable Foundation. “The organization that she has with this foundation and the strength she has every day is unbelievable.”
The Classic, which started at McClancy Saturday, featured area CYO and AAU 12-and-under and 14-and-under teams. Outside of the court’s doors, there was CPR training, health and wellness screenings as well as information about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), which is what happened to Dominic on that October, 2009 night.
“There’s so much that needs to be done as far as AED use, learning CPR,” Melinda said. “The awareness needs to be out there. What happened to Dom is not rare. It affects thousands of kids every year. It’s not just athletes, it’s non-athletes also. How many people know that?”
The foundation also donated automated external defibrillators to St. Joan of Arc, First Baptist Church and Millennium Development.
“We’re not just educating someone, we’re giving them a tool to save a life,” Melinda said.
The Classic also allowed younger basketball players to learn about Dominic, who was a standout at McClancy. They all wore shirts with Dominic’s name and the foundation’s logo on the front. All 96 players were trained in CPR.
“It’s a great cause, it’s good for the kids to learn and get the CPR class,” said Mike Herring, a Christ the King assistant who coaches the Warriors 14-and-under AAU squad. “It’s an honor to play in this tournament.”
Dominic was remembered as someone who always had a smile on his face, but he was his happiest on the basketball court. McClancy coach Don Kent recalled Dominic’s final home game on a Friday night against rival St. John’s Prep.
“A half hour [after the game], we’re ready to close the gym up to go home and Dominic is there saying that he’s got to get one more dunk in, it’s the end of my high school career,” Kent said. “Dominic lived life for his family, for God and basketball was a big part of his life. He had a great love for the sport.”
The most special part of the day came when Dominic’s former McClancy teammates, including rising Baruch senior Randall Sanabria, played a game against Dominic’s neighborhood friends.
“They’re coming home now to play on their home court against Dom’s neighborhood friends,” Melinda said. “They’re balling for a cause, they’re balling to protect young hearts and they’re coming home because their hearts are still touched by Dom and they want to touch other hearts.”
Dominic is never far from Sanabria’s thoughts. He said he has a small shrine of pictures and a wristband in his room to honor his former teammate.
“Every now and then I’ll take a peak over and remember all the good times,” he said.
On Sunday, the Classic’s championship games will be played at Farmingdale State College, a fitting conclusion to a special weekend.
“That’s the last place Dom played,” Melinda said. “Although Dom collapsed on the court, he did not die on the court.”
Thanks to Melinda, Dominic lives on and her fight to raise awareness about youth sudden cardiac arrest lives on as well.
“Sometimes events like this happen out of tragedy, but unfortunately that’s the only way to really get the message out that this is a serious issue and parents need to get their kids properly checked out,” Xifaras said. “It can happen to the healthiest adult or child.”
Contact Dylan Butler at email@example.com
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