Dunmorean of the Month: The Late Jimmy Brozzetti

By Steve Svetovich

Back in February 2006, Dunmore’s Jim Brozzetti needed someone to hold his hand when he attended the memorial service for his son, Jimmy, who tragically died at age 20 in a auto accident on his way back to Lycoming College.

That someone was late New York Yankees legend and Hall of Fame shortstop Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto.

“Jim, I’m here for you,” Rizzuto kept whispering to him.

The Scooter was nearing 90, and he was the one holding Brozzetti’s hand the entire hour, the worst hour of his good friend’s life.

That heart wrenching February day was also Brozzetti’s 60th birthday

That was likely the last funeral service Rizzuto attended before he died the following year in his sleep.

Brozzetti died last month after a long battle with cancer. He was never the same after his son’s tragic death.

Brozzetti was a close friend to Rizzuto and many other famous Yankees such as Joe Pepitone, Roy White, Don Mattingly, Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers, the late Gene Michael, and even late owner George Steinbrenner. He knew them all.

This scribe can attest to that. Rizzuto, in a personal letter to this scribe about 25 years ago, mentioned Brozzetti. Rizzuto wrote that he often visited Brozzetti at his Dunmore home. “When I come to visit my good friend Jimmy Brozzetti in Dunmore, I will look you up,” The Scooter wrote.

Jimmy Brozzetti is shown at left with Debi Preno, center, and former Yankee great Roy White at Russell’s Restaurant, Dunmore.

Brozzetti, upon Steinbrenner’s passing in 2010, remembered the former Yankees owner as a generous man who gave him unfettered access to the Yankees – some who became his closest friends.

Steinbrenner even gave Brozzetti a 1996 championship ring for being such a devoted Yankees fan.

Brozzetti, who owned a vending business, was known as Dunmore’s biggest New York Yankees fan. He attended over 900 consecutive Yankees games at Yankee Stadium across the 1980’s and 1990’s. He grew close to Rizzuto and other famous Yankees during that time period.

Brozzetti was a frequent visitor to the West Orange nursing home “The Scooter” lived in during the final months of his life.

“The Scooter” was a big fan of Derek Jeter and often spoke to Brozzetti of his admiration of the Yankees shortstop.

Rizzuto would imitate the famous “Jeter flip play,” even acting it out with Brozzetti in the nursing home.

When Rizzuto died, Brozzetti was at that funeral service. He was there for “The Scooter’s” wife, Cora. He was returning the favor and legacy of friendship.

Former Dunmore Councilman Paul Nardozzi said Brozzetti was like a big brother to him. “Jimmy was obviously Dunmore’s biggest Yankees man,” Nardozzi said. “He introduced me and my son Chris to George Steinbrenner and Gene Michael. And I met other Yankees like Roy White and Bucky Dent through Jimmy. They all knew Jimmy at Yankee Stadium. He was at every game.

“He was a mentor, a big brother to me. He was a very close friend.

The late Jimmy Brozzetti is shown with former Yankee player Rickey Henderson.

“Jimmy was also very charitable. He was involved in a lot of fund-raising efforts for kids, like the KRW Foundation, which raises money for the Boys and Girls Clubs. He used to get hundreds of baseballs signed by Yankees players and give the autographed balls to kids.”

Brozzetti had a great affinity for Dunmore football, Nardozzi said, because his late son Jimmy played for the Bucks.

“When he was sick and battling cancer,” Nardozzi said, “Jimmy would ask me to text him the score of the Dunmore Bucks football games after every quarter. He loved Dunmore Bucks football because his son played for them.”

Brozzetti, who died at 76, was a 1964 graduate of Dunmore High School. The son of the late Lucy and Angelo Brozzetti, Dunmore, he ran track and played baseball at Dunmore where he was nicknamed “Speedy Tomatoes.”

Following graduation, he enrolled in the U.S. Army and served in Korea. He attended Lackawanna Junior College and Johnson College, earning an associate degree.

Known in Dunmore as “Mr. Yankee,” he was a proud business owner of Jim’s Amusements and Vending for more than 40 years.

He played softball for many years in an adult league at Saint Anthony’s Playground, Dunmore.

Brozzetti was employed by Lackawanna County as the community outreach coordinator, working for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at PNC  Field in Moosic. The Lackawanna County Commissioners presented him with a proclamation for his commitment to helping children and youth organizations and as the driving force for the Legends Game at PNC Field, the KRW Foundation’s “Party with the Pros,” and the development of Strawberry Field in Peckville.

Brozzetti is survived by a daughter, Dina Manci, and granddaughter Lucy Manci, both of Glenburn.

Dunmoreans of the Month: Theo and Greg Zayac

By Steve Svetovich

Theo and Greg Zayac lost their three-month-old baby boy Jude to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) eight years ago. But since then, the Dunmore couple has worked ceaselessly to bring awareness to the tragedy that affects so many families.

The eighth annual “Jog for Jude,” held in memory of Jude Zayac, who suddenly and tragically passed away July 23, 2014, from SIDS, is the area’s only 5K race that raises awareness and funds for SIDS research. 

This year’s  race date is Saturday, April 23, at 6:30 pm., with a start at the Dunmore Community Center, 1414 Monroe Ave., Dunmore.

“To celebrate our return to a live in-person event,” said Theo Zayac, “we switched things up this year. This year’s race will be an evening run on Saturday, April 23, capped off by celebratory fireworks.”

The overall male and female champions will receive trophies and prizes. Medals will be awarded to the top male and female finishers in age groups ranging from 6-7 to 60 plus.

It is a rain or shine event. All registrations are final and non-refundable. The race contact is jamesmccormick jr@gmail.com.

This year’s “Jog for Jude” is the first in-person race since 2019. The last two races were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Day of registration will be available beginning at 5 p.m,

The mission of the Jude Zayac Foundation is to raise funds to support SIDS research and to enrich the lives of living children in our community in honor of Greg and Theo’s late infant son Jude.

“As always,” said Theo Zayac, “proceeds from the event will benefit Robert’s Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Saint Joseph’s Center Baby and Children’s Pantry. Two-thirds of the funds go to the Boston Children’s Hospital and one-third go to the Saint Joseph’s Center Baby Pantry.

A recent photo of the Zayacs shows from left: Theo, Matilda, Greg with Gus on his shoulders, and Gregory.

“This is a very positive thing to raise awareness and do research.

“We raised $1,000 our first year and try to double it each year. My husband’s goal is to have a total of a million dollars raised for this foundation by the tenth year.”

Prior to this year’s event, the Jude Zayac Foundation donated over $650,000 to worthy causes. There is now a named fund in Jude’s memory at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. The fund is called the Jude Theodore Zayac Fund.

Race Day is also the late Jude’s eighth birthday.

There will be refreshments, entertainment, raffles and special surprises at the event.

Supporters can register for the race at: www.runsignup.com/jogforjude. The Jude Zayac Foundation can be followed on Facebook and Instagram (@judezayacfoundation) for ways to receive the most up to date information about events and efforts in the fight against SIDS.

Greg and Theo Zayac are committed to ensuring no more children share the same fate as their infant son. “The Jude Zayac Foundation,” said Theo, “raises funds to support SIDS research and provide enrichment to children living in our community–all in loving memory of sweet baby Jude.”

Theo said research continues to raise increased awareness on SIDS. “In 2010,” she said, “a study from the Boston Children’s Hospital concluded there may be a link between brain stem abnormalities and serotonin deficiencies and SIDS. More studies like this need to be conducted to develop this theory and help find a way to detect SIDS before it kills more healthy babies.

“We are asking you to continue to honor our son, Jude, to stop SIDS in its tracks before it takes another life, and to enrich the lives of Jude’s would-be-friends and classmates.

“We hope to truly make a difference on behalf of our son.”

The Zayac couple have three children: Gregory, 11, and Matilda, 6, both students at Dunmore Elementary Center; and Gus, 4, a student at Saint Clare’s preschool in Green Ridge. The close-knit family keeps Jude in their heart always and forever.

Click this link to register for the 5K race or 1 mile jog/walk: runsignup.com/jogforjude.

Dunmorean of the Month: Alyssa Bielinski

Dunmore’s Alyssa Bielinski helps raise $13.7 million as director for Penn State’s THON

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore graduate Alyssa Bielinski served as director of Pennsylvania State University’s THON that raised $13.7 million last month for Four Diamonds Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey.

“The money was raised so families of children in this hospital do not have to worry about a bill,” the 2018 Dunmore graduate said. “The money will also be used for funds and research.”

Alyssa, 22, put in countless hours of time and effort to help raise money over the past year.

THON was held Feb. 18 to 20 at Penn State at State College. The event was held for 46 consecutive hours with students standing or dancing the entire time to raise money for the cause.

THON 2022 marked its return to the Bryce Jordan Center with its highest fund-raising total to date.

Last year’s THON was forced to go virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving behind a filled Bryce Jordan Center for a Zoom live stream where dancers participated from home.

THON 2022: Spark Endless Light celebrated its 50th anniversary and a return to the Bryce Jordan Center. THON 2022 shattered the 2014 record by raising $13,756,374.50 to combat childhood cancer.

There were some changes this year due to the pandemic. Children with active cancer treatment were not able to attend. All attendees had to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.

In 1973, 78 dancers stood for 30 hours in the first Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon at the HUB-Robeson Center, raising about $2,000 for charity.

Since then, it has evolved into the world’s largest student-run philanthropy and has raised more than $200 million to combat pediatric cancer.

The Penn State IFC/Penhellenic Dance Marathon or THON is a student-run philanthropy committed to enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by cancer. Its mission is to provide emotional and financial support, spread awareness, and ensure funding for critical research – all in pursuit of a cure.

Students, volunteers and Four Diamonds families joined together at the Bryce Jordan Center for 46 hours. The volunteers gave children and their families the opportunity to forget their cancer diagnosis. Close to 700 students were recognized as dancers for THON Weekend, a feat that entails standing on their feet for the entirety of the weekend.

Daughter of AnnMarie Bielinski, Alyssa has volunteered for THON since her freshman year at Penn State. She was named Special Events Director this year as a senior. She was previously on the rules and regulation committee.

Well-spoken and articulate, Alyssa is a senior Rehab and Human Services major. She has a 3.7 grade point average at Penn State.

Alyssa graduated seventh in her class at Dunmore High School where she attained a 97 academic average. She was a member of TACT, SADD, Spanish Club, Earth Club and National Honor Society. She played four years of softball and was captain as a first baseman in her senior year.

Her plan after college graduation is to work in the non-profit development field of human services. She would like to add an internship before she enters the work world.

She said her experience with THON has been fulfilling. “It has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “You really grow as a person and it prepares you for life after college. You meet so many people and it is very rewarding. You get to hear and share so many stories. It is an awesome experience.

“I go to a lot of weekly meetings and lead a committee of 18 captains. There are 109 committee members. Special Events Director is a full year effort.”

This year’s event started at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, and concluded at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 20.

Alyssa said emergency medical staff and athletic trainers were on standby for the dancers.

“This is a year-round effort for me,” she said. “We are involved in events to raise money throughout the entire year.”

Mature beyond her young years, Alyssa said THON partners with the Penn State football team, holds a 5K run with over 3,000 runners in October, and runs a family carnival in December, among other charitable functions.

“The THON Weekend is our visible event, but my job is to continue with events year-round.

“This was a record-breaking year. It was so humbling to see all of this emotional support coming back. We contacted a lot of organizations and raised so much money through our fund-raising efforts.

“This has been such an amazing experience. I have built so many wonderful relationships through this over the past four years.

“It is such an experience that I can not even measure its worth. It will certainly help prepare me for life beyond college.”