More Than A New York City
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
This is not my story but I thought I’d share it with you.
It comes to me via email from former Queens Assemblyman Mort Hillman. To the best of my memory, Mort served the Bayside community in Albany for a number of years a decade or so ago. Like many Queens seniors, Mort retired to Florida where he got involved in local Democratic politics.
Several years ago Mort started emailing me comments on my weekly Tribune column. I responded and Mort, who was never a friend while in the legislature, has now become somewhat of an occasional cyber buddy.
Last week, in an e-mail, he suggested there was a story that “might be worthy of some space.” He explained, “The girl in the story, Chris
Jadge, was one of my first interns after my election to the Assembly in 1986. She was brought up in Queens, still lives in Queens and graduated from St John’s Law School and is now a very successful corporate attorney with a firm in Manhattan. I am sending you the e-mail she sent about her successful run in the recent NY Marathon. I think the connection with 9/11 is beautiful.”
Chris had circulated an email telling the story of her New York Marathon experience and the translation of an article in
Primerahora.com, the online version of a Puerto Rican newspaper.
Chris Jagde during the NYC Marathon wearing her Engine Company 4 t-shirt in honor of fallen firefighter Paul Gill.
I contacted Chris and her story turned out to be enchanting and human and I’m happy to have the chance of telling it to Queens.
Christine Jadge, a bankruptcy litigator at Mayer, Brown Rowe & Maw, a major NYC corporate law firm, describes herself as, “a Queens girl through and through.” She grew up in Middle Village, went to Martin Luther High School in Maspeth and to college and law school at St. John’s. Her parents are both from Queens. Norman Jagde is a retired Local 3 electrician originally from Richmond Hill and Dolores Jagde is a retired nurse originally from Ridgewood.
Chris told us, “One of the best experiences that I ever had was as Mort Hillman’s intern in his Albany office, and then later as his legislative aide in Albany and in Flushing . . . Mort and [his wife] Ruth are like my surrogate grandparents! They have always supported me — they attended my law school graduation and have remained very involved in my life.”
Chris ran the 2003 NYC Marathon in honor of a former classmate from Martin Luther H.S. – Paul John Gill, a NYC Firefighter of Engine 54 in midtown Manhattan – who lost his life on Sept 11, 2001 while trying to save people at the World Trade Center. Chris describes Paul as a gentle soul and a true Renaissance man — a gifted carpenter, a talented poet and artist, an excellent athlete and a dedicated dad.
Chris further convinced us of her Queens credentials by adding that her entire marathon training took place in Queens. She ran throughout Whitestone, Bayside, College Point, Flushing and Douglaston, always wearing an Engine 54 FDNY t-shirt while training.
Her parents, transplanted from Queens to South Carolina, surprised her by flying in to cheer her on. Her friends were able to track her progress during the race via the internet as a result of a special chip on her shoe.
Chris was prepared for the big day.
And then she saw it all unraveling.
Christine Jagde and Puerto Rican photojournalist Giuliano De Portu.
At mile 12 of the NYC marathon, Chris was experiencing bad knee pain and wasn’t sure that she could continue. After moving to the side, walking and stretching, she started to cry when she realized she would have to walk and limp to continue.
Reacting to her shirt, another runner came up and asked, “Engine 54, are you ok?” She explained her disappointment and tears.
He responded that it was his first marathon and he just wanted to finish and would stay with her until the end.
Well as Chris limped through the next five miles, walked five more, then ran the last three, the two talked and became friends.
She related how the life of her friend Paul Gill, who died in the World Trade Center, inspired her to train for the marathon and that she was running in his memory.
He was Giuliano De Portu, a photojournalist from Puerto Rico who captured the experience for his readers in an article titled, “Testimony of a Fajon.” (Chris translates “fajon,” as, “someone who tried really hard.”)
He entered the marathon because some Kenyan runners inspired him to lose 45 pounds. He was part of “Operation 1427,” six overweight journalists that decided to train for a 10K race and invited the community to join their effort. Their combined weight was 1,427 pounds.
His written version is even more touching than her e-mail. He writes (translated from Spanish), “A year and a half ago, I could not run from here to there. Now I was to run a distance that would take me thorough all of New York’s boroughs in a day! Life had me running my first marathon in NY on my birthday. What a way to celebrate . . . Well I did. In addition, my story of the marathon turned out to be something I did not expect, something very special.”
After meeting Chris at mile 12, he recounted, some running, walking, and baby steps, all with the idea of just getting to the finish line in Central Park. The two new friends abandoned any other previous goals and thought they would have a good time doing this for themselves and for Paul.
Giuliano closed with: “I will never forget the sacrifice, the sweat the blood and the tears. But it was all behind me. It was hard to understand how a city with eight million strangers, where rarely their sights cross, became one for a day with the world to celebrate the marathon, and where after seven hours 31 minutes and 43 seconds time had seemed to stop. See you next year.”
And . . . thanx Paul.
Queens Girl Becomes
‘Pride of Manhattan’
After the race, Chris and her parents Norman and Dolores Jagde
(left) attended a small party for family and friends. She also invited the firefighters that worked with Paul. Several of them came and presented Chris with an Engine 54, 4 Truck t-shirt, hat and a pin.
(right) Billy Carlson put the Engine Co 54 pin on Chris and told her she was now a part of the “Pride of Midtown” and part of the extended fire department family.
Having Paul’s Company there, was according to Chris, truly one of the best experiences of her marathon day.
Not4Publication.com by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can
be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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Not4Publication.com by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be