John D. LaFontaine – Companion in Courage

September 23, 2022 in News

Condolences to Pat LaFontaine and his family on the passing of his dear dad, John D. on September 20. Mr. LaFontaine was a giant in life and in industry. He was regarded as Lee Iacocca’s right hand man at Chrysler, and rumor has it that he was a pretty good hockey coach. He was a throwback to a time and place that made this country great. He will be missed by all of us who had the pleasure of being in his company. A man of great faith, he will finally get to join his beloved Giselle (Jay) in eternity.

His pulse runs through the Companions in Courage Foundation every day. He loved his family more than anything, so perhaps it’s fitting that his legacy might include connecting pediatric patients with their families. 

LAFONTAINE, JOHN D. formerly of Waterford; passed away peacefully at Village Park in Milton, Georgia, on September 20, 2022; age 84; Devoted husband of the late Gisele “Jay”; Cherished father of John (Lorrie), Pat (Marybeth) and Rene (Doug) Adler; Beloved grandfather of Jean-Paul, Monique (Teddy), Sarah, Brianna (Randel), Dan (Natasha), Sam, Danielle and Quinn; Proud great-grandfather of Patrick.

John was born in Tecumseh, Ontario, on May 29, 1938 to Joseph “Bud” and Irene LaFontaine. He was the second of seven boys, the late Richard (Connie), Fred (Patricia), Paul (the late Jeanne), Gordon (Ilene), Mike (the late Maureen) and Dan (Mary Jane). The family eventually moved to Berkely, Michigan. John graduated from Shrine Catholic High School in 1956. He married the love of his life, Gisele “Jay” LaPierre, on February 16, 1963. John enjoyed a 33 year career at Chrysler, which included a ten year stint in St. Louis, Missouri, and then back to Detroit. He eventually became plant manager and over saw many Chrysler facilities, including Windsor, Ontario.

After retiring, John and Jay moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked an additional two years for Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Jay passed away from heart disease on July 18, 2004. John continued to travel and visit his three children and their families. Mr. LaFontaine served in the National Guard and was a long-time member of St. Perpetua Catholic Church. The Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Perpetua Catholic Church, 134 Airport Road, Waterford. The family will receive friends on Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Riverside Chapel, Simpson-Modetz Funeral Home, 5630 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford, and at the church on Tuesday 10:30 a.m. until time of Mass. Rite of Committal All Saints Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Companions in Courage or to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Terry Sheerin – Companion in Courage

August 2, 2022 in News

Condolences to Kevin Sheerin and his family on the passing of his beloved wife Terry on July 31. May the smiles and warm memories they shared together be some comfort during this difficult time.

Theresa Mary “Terry” Sheerin, 62, of Huntington Bay, passed away on July 31, 2022. Beloved wife of Kevin who was the love of her life. Loving mother of Bridget (Jon-Colin Barclay), Kevin, Aidan, Erin (fiancé John Dernulc), and Andrew. Cherished grandmother of Xander. Dear sister of the late Matthew (Meryl), John, David (Polly), and Patricia (Michael).

Terry is predeceased by her parents, David A.J. Schmitz and Mary O’Loughlin Schmitz. Visitation Wednesday, 7-9 PM and Thursday, 2-4 PM and 7-9 PM at M.A. Connell Funeral Home, 934 New York Ave., Huntington Station. Funeral Mass Friday, 9:45 AM at St. Patrick’s Church, Huntington. Interment to follow at St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Huntington.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations made to: Companions in Courage Foundation in Terry’s name would be greatly appreciated by the family.

18th Annual CiC Golf Classic is Worth the Wait

October 13, 2021 in News

After COVID Hiatus – a “family” celebration!

HUNTINGTON, NY, September 30, 2021  –  After a one-year hiatus, caused by the COVID pandemic, more than 130 golfers convened at Huntington Country Club today for the 18th Annual Companions in Courage Foundation Golf Classic.

There was a palpable energy amongst attendees as the Companions in Courage “family” convened for the first time in two years.  The assembled group helped raise money and awareness for the organization that now serves almost 60,000 pediatric patients per year in hospitals throughout North America.

A record number of golfers teed it up on a perfect fall day, on a beautiful golf course. Michigan artist Paul Madden spent the day completing a commemorative original painting created on the back of a LaFontaine jersey. The piece would be auctioned at a spirited post-event dinner.

The day was filled with poignant moments, including traditional tributes (at Amen Corner) to CiC Foundation supporters who have passed on. The highlight of the dinner was when Clinton Brown III reminded everyone that at one point in his life he had been a “recipient” of the work of Companions in Courage. He was honored to be on hand this night as a “supporter.” He concluded his comments with a message about the honor of being involved with the CiC “family,” and then he led everyone in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” for his mother Cheryl, a longtime foundation volunteer.

LaFontaine recognized longtime supporter Mike Heagerty of Edward Hall Insurance and ONE80 Intermediaries with the prestigious Pioneer Award. The honor was initiated in 2009 as a way to recognize those special ‘companions in courage’ who have gone above and beyond in helping the foundation achieve its mission. Mike and his wife, Mary, have been fixtures in supporting children’s charities in the Huntington area for decades, and he has supported the Golf Classic since its inception. The entire Heagerty clan was on hand to surprise the recipient and to revel in the special moment.

The newest member of the foundation’s executive board, Chris Andricopoulos of Northwestern Mutual in Connecticut delivered a poignant story about why he and his family were inspired to become more engaged with the foundation. He then surprised LaFontaine by providing a $10,000 donation from Northwestern Mutual corporate.

Frank Bellizzi of Three Monkeys Wine introduced the latest vintage (2017) of The Pinot Line – a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. He offered that a couple of auction items were unique in that they represented the last of the full flight of Pinot Line vintages (2012-2017). The flight of .750 bottles went as quickly as the flight of magnum bottles. Along with 30 autographed magnum bottles of the 2017 vintage personally autographed by LaFontaine, the wine maker helped raise more than $13,000 in a matter of minutes.

Jim Johnson, Executive Director of the foundation talked about “The Mane Event” podcast that the organization was now creating and distributing. The podcasts feature inspirational stories designed to inspire and motivate pediatric patients to get well. One clip featured Dave Stevens, a Quinnipiac University professor, born with no legs, who has played professional baseball and tried out for the Dallas Cowboys!

LaFontaine also welcomed former teammates Clark Gillies, Steve Webb and Randy Wood. The field of celebrities included former NBA star Wally Szczerbiak, his dad Walter Szczerbiak, and hockey’s Pat Jablonski.

Phil Risman, from the Northwestern Mutual foursome, won the Long Drive contest with a bomb on Hole #7, while Tim Blair (10’6”) won the Closest-to-the-Pin contest on Hole #3. Tom Hildebrandt won the “Nearest-to-the-Net” contest on #18.

The foursome of Clark Gillies, Chris Amplo, John Catapano and Joe Macina took the low gross team honors with a score of 58. By a single stroke, they bested the runner-up teams of Greg DeRosa, Victor Medina, Peter Tiberio and Peter Tonna; along with Mike Bachmann, Chris Basta, Robert Codignotto and Tom Milana, Jr.

Many golfers took advantage of the “Air Cannon” on Hole #15, sponsored by Rosini Engineering. The cannon would launch a tee shot about 350 yards on the par 5 hole and give every team a shot at eagle. Several golfers commented that the cannon should be an option on EVERY hole!

LaFontaine thanked the Franchise sponsors – NFP Insurance. He also thanked the Major sponsors that included Lombardi Design, the Heagerty Family Foundation, Northwestern Mutual, Port View Leasing, X-Cell Realty Associates, Striano Electric, Botto Mechanical Corporation, Delaney Contracting, the McAuley Family Foundation, Patti Spray Fireproofing, G2D Development, Harbor Irrigation, the Croatian-American Foundation, J.C. Steel Corporation, Mercedes Benz of Huntington, TAM Industries, Green Cubes Technology, Rob MacInnis, Bill Isenberg, Jerry Wood, Paul Gillin, and John Moran.

LaFontaine also thanked John Cameron of Cameron Engineering for sponsoring the player’s gifts, Jim Botto of Botto Mechanical for sponsoring the Caddies and the Practice Green; Jerry Wood for sponsoring the Texas Hold’em Tournament;  Rob MacInnis for sponsoring the Premium Cigars; Jim Buzzetta of Mercedes Benz of Huntington for sponsoring the Hole-in-One competition, and Ken Delaney of Delaney Contracting for sponsoring the Driving Range.

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LaFontaine Welcomes New Member to Foundation’s Executive Board

July 6, 2021 in News

HUNTINGTON, NY, July 5, 2021  –  Pat LaFontaine announced today that Chris Andricopoulos – Managing Director with Northwestern Mutual in Connecticut – has been added to the Executive Board of Directors of Companions in Courage Foundation.

The foundation president said, “Chris has demonstrated a passion for helping those in need – particularly ensuring that pediatric patients have a better time of it. We are really pleased that he has accepted our offer to join the executive board.”

Andricopolous, Managing Director of the firm’s Norwalk office,  was introduced to the work of Companions in Courage by staff who have a connection to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. The Masotta Family Fund worked with the foundation to build a Lion’s Den Room at that hospital in  2017. Two members of the Masotta Family  work with Andricopoulos in the Norwalk office.

“I look forward to the opportunity to serve on the board of CIC.   Joining this wonderful organization, I am excited to make an immediate impact in the lives of pediatric patients and their families locally, and we are eager to begin planning, hosting and participating with the CIC community. My wife, Kelly and I both have seen   first-hand the importance of support when your child is in the hospital and we are thrilled for the opportunity to give back. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and start making a real difference. Thank you  Pat and Jim for this amazing opportunity.”

Jerome Wood, a former Managing Director at Morgan Stanley and a member of the foundation executive board echoed the sentiment of current board members . “Chris is a terrific addition to the group. We welcome his enthusiasm toward making a difference in the lives of pediatric patients and their families.”

Andricopoulos is a graduate of Lehigh University and is a member of Northwestern Mutual’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. Chris and his wife, Kelly, have been involved in a number of charitable efforts with ties to children. They have    three boys, Liam, Brodie and Cooper.

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) and its subsidiaries in Milwaukee, WI. . Chris Andricopoulos is a District Agent of NM.