LaFontaine – Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame

May 19, 2023 in News

For almost 40 years, Pat LaFontaine has been a resident of Suffolk County in New York. On Thursday, May 18, LaFontaine was inducted into the county’s Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Eastwind in Wading River.

LaFontaine – born in St. Louis and raised in Michigan- had a 15-year NHL career in which he never left the state of New York. He started with the Islanders in 1983, later played in Buffalo and finished his career with the Rangers.  In 2017, LaFontaine was selected as one of the top-100 NHL players of all time. In 2003, he was elected into both the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Minnesota.

The hockey star was introduced by longtime News12 sports anchor Kevin Maher. He said, “Pat is a hall-of-famer in every sense of those words,” and cited LaFontaine’s commitment to the community through the Companions in Courage Foundation and his work at the NHL in creating the Declaration of Principles.

The hockey star spoke for all the inductees when he reflected on how sports is a steppingstone in life for many athletes. He advised, “Score all your goals early, because later in life, it’s all about the ‘assists.” He noted the attendance of local hockey legend and Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame member Buzzy Deschamps. He said the former Long Island Duck hockey star has done more to promote the game of hockey on Long Island than anyone he knows.

But LaFontaine saved his most touching remarks for the family of ALS pioneer Chris Pendergast. Noting that his son-in-law is suffering from “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” LaFontaine talked about what an inspiration the Pendergast family had been to his family. In 1993, Chris Pendergast was given the diagnosis that he would not survive three years. Twenty-eight years later, he finally succumbed to the disease, but not before raising millions of dollars for ALS Research.

Former Islanders teammates who have previously been elected to the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame include Clark Gillies and Gerry Hart. LaFontaine noted their recent passings and cited them, along with fellow Islanders alumni Ed Westfall, Bryan Trottier and Bob Nystrom for inspiring the then 19-year-old to get involved with community service when he joined the team. In addition to providing resources to the Child Life Services staff at every children’s hospital on Long Island, LaFontaine’s charity is now delivering resources to 150 (of the 220) children’s hospitals across North America. More than 60,000 pediatric patients stay connected to their family, classmates and heroes each year through (

LaFontaine and his wife Marybeth raised their three children in the Huntington area. Even when he was traded to Buffalo and then the Rangers, the LaFontaines maintained a residence in Montauk.

Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame President Chris Vaccaro said of the hockey star, “Hockey legend and Huntington resident Pat LaFontaine knocked it out of the park with his speech about the power of community and sports. What a great addition he is to our Hall.”

Gerry Hart Passes Away at 75

May 13, 2023 in News

The condolences of all of us at Companions in Courage Foundation go out to the family of original Islander Gerry Hart. The sturdy defenseman passed away on May 12th at the age of 75. The native of Flin Flon put deep roots

into the Long Island community and helped grow the sport from the Islanders’ inception.

Hart was a long-time supporter of pediatric patients and was always ready to lend a helping hand, with his gentle demeanor or his participation in charity events. In addition to his loyal support of CiC Foundation, he also worked as hard for the Clark Gillies Foundation.

Gerry played most of his 730-game NHL career on Long Island, and later operated The Rinx in Hauppauge (now the Clark Gillies Arena) since 1992. He managed it into a profitable 24-hour ice facility – especially during winter months. In 1997, Hart was inducted to the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame. Hart sold the ice rink in 2004.

The former defenseman then turned his attention to providing assists in his adopted home of Long Island. Gerry was a fixture at charitable events and for families in need. He supported the Gillies Foundation and participated in a host of charity events on behalf of Companions in Courage.

Burial services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to support children’s charities at;; and

Stitches LaRoar!

May 2, 2023 in News

Meet our cuddly friend, Stitches LaRoar!

This 9″ lovable stuffed lion carries with it a sense of positivity and friendship- reducing feelings of negativity, loneliness, and anxiety. Stitches is individually wrapped and comes with a special message from Pat LaFontaine: “We hope that “Stitches LaRoar” fills your heart with courage and love.”

This little gift will be loved and cherished by pediatric patients in hospitals across the country! You can make your donation of one or more in honor of a special patient’s hospital stay or in Memorium.

However you choose to participate, your donation ensures that no child in the fight for life or health should ever have to go through it alone!

“Flo” Gries – 1927-2022

October 21, 2022 in News

Condolences to Cheryl Gries Brown and her family on the passing of their beloved matriarch,  Florence “Flo” Gries surrounded by her loving family on October 19th. May the smiles and warm memories they shared together be some comfort during this difficult time.

Florence Gries      June 22, 1927 ~ October 19, 2022 (age 95)

Beloved wife of the late Joseph.Loving mother of Cheryl (Clinton) Brown and the late James Gries.Cherished grandmother of Clinton (Sofiya) Brown III and Gregory Nichols, great grandmother of Logan James. Beloved sister of the late Rose McGeever, the late Frances the late Louis Caruso and Michael Caruso.Survived by many loving nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.

Donations may be made in lieu Flowers:

Companions in Courage Foundation, P.O. Box 768, Huntington, NY 11743