By Paul Greulich, Staff Writer
ROSELLE — The borough is preparing to hold a special event to honor a fallen local hero — Fire Capt. Jonathan “Jon” Young, who died last year.
The first annual Jon Young Memorial 5K race will honor the popular firefighter, who died suddenly of a heart attack while on duty in November, 2011. He was 49 years old.
The race is being organized by the borough government, the Roselle Chamber of Commerce and the Agape House of Worship.
Fire Chief Paul Mucha said Young was a colleague as well as a friend.
“He left some big shoes to fill in the department, and I find it hard to believe anyone ever will,” Mucha said.
Young was born and raised in Roselle and graduated from Abraham Clark High School in 1979. He joined the Roselle Volunteer Ambulance Corps after high school. He served the Roselle community as a volunteer for 12 years and became a career firefighter in 1991. He also served as the coordinator for the Roselle Office of Emergency Management, which is responsible for helping the town recover from major incidents like snowstorms or floods.
Mayor Jamel Holley described Young as a “personal friend” in addition to being a brave firefighter and volunteer.
“Not only was Jon Young an upstanding citizen, he was also a staple of this small, tight-knit community,” Holley said. “I firmly believe that this event will serve as a reflection of the impact he made on all our lives.”
Holley said he got to know Young through his involvement in the community, which ranged from helping with the Thanksgiving charity dinner to dressing as Santa Claus and riding in on a helicopter during the borough’s annual toy drive.
“His heart was dedicated to serving Roselle,” Holley said.
Young’s sister, Karen Thomas, said her brother was “a giving soul” who lived to help others.
“My family and I are very grateful to everyone who supported us at the time of his loss, and is assisting in keeping his memory alive,” Thomas said.
Registration for the event will begin at 3:30 p.m. at Borough Hall on Chestnut Street. A one mile run/health walk will take place at 4:30 p.m. and the 5K will begin at 5 p.m.
All proceeds will be donated to the Saint Barnabas Burn Foundation, the Roselle Public Library, Roselle Recreation and the Junior ROTC program at Abraham Clark High School.
All registered runners and walkers will receive a T-shirt, and prizes will be awarded to top male and female participants. There will also be a free pasta party following the race.
In addition to responding to fires in Roselle, Young was an instructor at the Union County Fire Academy. He was also a specialist with the Union County Hazmat Team. He served as the president of the New Jersey Emergency Preparedness Association and was a member of the Vulcan Society.
Young was one of the most decorated members of the Roselle Fire Department receiving several Valor Awards, a Fireman of the Year Award twice, and a Life Saving Award.
Those interested in supporting the event can learn more, or register to participate, by visiting www.boroughofroselle.com or calling 908-259-3036.
Paul Greulich can be reached at 908-686-7700 ext. 121, or at thelocalsource @gmail.com.