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Anthony Torchia – Featured in ‘Slater’s Slant’

Go online to NCNLOCAL.COM and you will see a front page article about Kennedy Catholic Junior, Anthony Torchia.  The following text can be found here. Photo by Mr. Malecki.

 

Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 4:11 pm | Updated: 4:15 pm, Wed Sep 28, 2011.

By Chuck Slater | 0 comments

In the last couple of months, Anthony Torchia of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School has

probably accomplished more than any other high school football player in the area, yet he has not caught a pass, made a tackle nor gained any yards from scrimmage.

In fact, the Somers-based school’s junior wide receiver-safety has not played even one down.

He has, however, been responsible for collecting 52 pints of blood.

This road to heroism starts on June 26, a lovely Sunday morning. The Torchia family – mom Anna, dad Anthony and older sister Daniella – is preparing for a family barbecue at its Ossining home. Young Anthony, 16, who has worked himself up to 6-2 and 185 pounds in preparation for the fall varsity season, has taken his ATV (all-terrain vehicle) quad out for a spin.

He has just replaced the hand grips but somehow they stick in full throttle. Anthony loses control, is vaulted from his ATV and crashes helmeted-head-first into the brick wall in front of the family residence.

Hearing the noise, the father goes out to check and lets out a piercing scream, bringing the female family members to him.

There, on the ground, unconscious but moaning, is Anthony, crumpled with blood streaming from seemingly everywhere in his head.

“I’ll never get that picture out of my mind,” Anna Torchia said.

“If he hadn’t worn his helmet, I don’t think he’d be here,” her husband said.

“My parents were freaking out so I knew someone had to stay calm,” said Daniella, a three-sport start at JFK and a certified lifeguard. She got towels from the house, supported her brother’s head and neck. A neighbor, Dr. Erica Schwartz, a hospital doctor, came over to help.

At Westchester Medical Center, the teenager was found to have four skull fractures, four broken ribs, a fractured pelvis and a shattered spleen. “The doctors said ordinarily they might have removed the spleen,” Mrs. Torchia said, “but he’d already lost so much blood they didn’t dare.”

Anthony, who had regained consciousness in the ambulance, was given four pints of blood in the hospital, the nurses explaining how fortunate he was because blood was always in shortest supply during the summer months. Through his pain, he heard them.

By the time he returned home after 14 days in intensive care and four more in the general hospital, Torchia weighed 140 pounds. He is now up to 150 and recovering quickly. “They told us his was the worst spleen injury they had ever seen and been able to repair,” his mother said. “Miraculously, there was no brain damage.”

His football season was over before it began. Winter sports were out, too. Maybe, the doctors said, playing golf for the head of the school, Father Mark Vaillancourt, on his varsity team in the spring might work. With four key seniors having graduated last June, Father Vaillancourt, who visited Anthony in the hospital the night of the accident, expects big things from his comebacking athlete.

“At first when he came home Anthony was depressed,” said his mom. “We talked about what the nurses giving him blood said, and he decided to sponsor his own blood drive.”

The Torchias annually bold a big August barbecue for their large extended family. E-mails to all explained that this year blood-giving would also be on the menu.

The New York Blood Center sent over two buses and technicians. A total of 85 family members were checked and pints taken from 52. “We had more willing to give but after two hours the buses were full,” Mrs. Torchia said. “They told Anthony they had never gotten such a response in one home collection.”

“I knew the hospitals were running low on blood and I wanted to help out,” said Anthony. “When I needed my transfusions, they were there for me.”

The 16-year-old recovering athlete is back in school, and back at the football field. “I’m very involved helping coach with the plays and getting kids water, whatever they need,” he said.

The football coach is Rob Schwartz. “It’s a shame, he’s a terrific, determined kid,” Schwartz said. “You know, last year on the JV [Junior Varsity] he broke his wrist in the first game, then he worked out, got taller and bigger, everything to prepare for this season.”

Now it’s wait until next season. “I definitely want to play football next year,” Anthony Torchia said.

It is not his only goal for next year. “We’ll be holding the family blood drive again,” he promised.

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