Old Bridge police honor Sayreville youngster’s selfless act

Old Bridge Police Officer Gregory Goy, Officer Frank Contrera and Sgt. Ronald Nitto with Nico after presenting him with a jersey and blanket.

The theme of paying it forward continues to intertwine itself in the lives of local heroes.

On May 8, as Antonella Tripiciano was driving to Union Beach for CCD with her son, Nico, Nico’s brother, Dom, and her nephew, Angelo, they came upon a motor vehicle accident a few cars in front of them on Route 34 in Old Bridge.

“People were running out of their cars to help. I pulled over and realized a car hit a motorcycle. The young man on the motorcycle was next to the car on the ground. He had blood coming out of the side of his head. There was a nurse there helping out, but needed something to hold up the young man’s head,” Tripiciano said.

“I ran back to my car as the kids were there because I didn’t want them seeing the scene as it was brutal with the blood on the ground. The only thing I had was Nico’s blanket that he has held so close to him since his first bone marrow transplant. Nico was hesitant to give the young man that blanket, but knew in his heart the young man needed it more than he did.

“Nico was so, so upset about it. I said to him I think it was a sign from God that it was time for him to depart from the blanket and that someone else needed it more than him now. He agreed, but still felt that his comfort blanket that he knew will no longer be with him. It’s like he lost a piece of him that day when he gave up the blanket,” she said.

Nico Oneto is a fifth-grader at Samsel Upper Elementary School in Sayreville who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia three years ago. Since then he has undergone chemotherapy, radiation and two bone marrow transplants.

“Even though he lost a piece of himself he knew it was for an amazing and courageous cause – a piece of him that shows him everything is going to be OK from that moment on. That piece of him needs to stay in the past to move forward. So, from that day Nico felt like he for once was able to help someone else in need since his diagnosis, but at the same time felt sad,” Tripiciano said.

Once Old Bridge police took over the scene, Tripiciano said she explained to Officer Frank Contrera about the blanket.

“Officer Contrera called me a few days later and told me it was bothering him seeing Nico all upset that day. He wanted to know if it was OK to stop by with a few of his colleagues to bring Nico a gift. I said absolutely, he would love that.”

Contrera said he was touched by Nico’s gesture, especially since he has 10-year-old twins of his own; Nico is 11.

“He did a nice thing. He was courageous,” Contrera said of Nico. “You don’t see kids do this often.”

On May 16, Officer Gregory Goy, Sgt. Ronald Nitto and Contrera  dropped off an embroidered Old Bridge Police Department blanket courtesy of Coby Graphics, plus a New York Giants Eli Manning jersey. In addition, Bubba’s 33 donated a dinner to the family.

“He was pretty excited. He knows we lifted his spirits,” Contrera said.

“Nico’s smile was amazing when he saw a new blanket and a jersey as well. His smile lit up the room. Priceless memories. Now Nico can make more amazing memories with his new blanket,” his mother said.

It was even more timely since Tripiciano said Nico was having a bad day and he was able to snuggle with the blanket to make himself feel better. Nico experiences some side effects from the radiation and transplants, but Tripiciano said she considers him to be in remission.

“We live life day to day to the fullest. We don’t take anything for granted,” she said. “When you’re having a bad day, Nico makes you have a better day. … We’ve always fed him positivity he’s picked up on, but he naturally has that gift. No matter how horrible of a day at the hospital he was having, he was still smiling.”

“He’s a strong kid. He’s doing a good job. Hopefully everyone says some prayers and he gets through this,” Contrera said.

As for the motorcyclist, Contrera said he was in serious condition but survived, and has been released from the hospital. Tripiciano said Nico was more concerned about the young man than himself.

Although Nico’s Ninjas Acute AML Fund was established in August 2016 to help the family, Tripiciano said anyone interested in helping should reach out to other children in need.

For more information, visit Nico’s Ninjas on Facebook.

Contact Jennifer Amato at [email protected].