By JOSH SCHWARZ, AMANDA SICILIANO, MICHELE MATTIA, JASMINE DURSUN
The annual three-on-three basketball tournament in memory of a fallen Ramapo College of New Jersey alum was an overwhelming success.
The tournament, presented by Alpha Epsilon Pi, was started to raise money and awareness for Drug Free America after former RCNJ student Danny Boylan tragically passed away from a drug overdose related to his mental illness. Boylan passed away 12 years ago after he self-medicated himself. The medications the doctors were prescribing for his bipolar disorder became ineffective, forcing Boylan to search elsewhere for relief.
Various members of Boylan’s family were in attendance, and they talked about the importance of awareness and education when it comes to mental illnesses.
“I’m an advocate for [awareness and education] because I’m walking proof that you can function normally, you can have a job, run a family, and be happy,” said Anne Marie Kernick, Boylan’s older sister. “You have to educate yourself. You have to know your body. This is all stuff my brother didn’t know.”
Kernick was diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly after her brother’s death. She insists that the silver lining of her brother’s tragedy was what she was able to learn from it, which is how to live a happy life with a mental illness.
Boylan’s childhood best friend, Bill Hallas, also attended the fundraiser. He was happy to talk about his renewed relationship with Boylan during the final year of his life.
“Both of our parents got divorced and we moved away [from each other],” Hallas said. “Many, many years passed and I finally received a call from Danny’s sister Anne Marie, and she told me that Danny was still in the area in New Jersey. She
put me back in touch with him about a year before he passed away. I got to reconnect with him before he passed and it was an important year, it really was.”
The fundraiser cost $5 per person on each three-man basketball team to enter, and $5 for each spectator at the event. All proceeds were donated to support the cause.
AEPi has not yet released the revenue generated by the event, but judging by the attendance and energy in the Bradley Center that day, this fundraiser did not disappoint.