Warwick police donate blood for burn victim

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    WARWICK-Warwick police Chief Thomas McGovern has known Jack Kennedy practically all of the young man's eight years. So when Kennedy, a neighbor, classmate, and best friend of McGovern's son, Brian, at Sanfordville Elementary School, was badly burned on Jan. 9, McGovern helped to organize a blood drive for the boy. "We know the family; most of the guys here know the family," said McGovern. "When it's a kid, it really hits you." Seven Warwick police officers, including McGovern, two state troopers, and Ray Kettering from Jackie's Deli went down to Westchester County Medical Center Burn Unit where Kennedy has been since the accident. "We went to help replenish their blood supply," McGovern said, adding that 10 officers from the Hawthorne, N.J., police department also donated. Diane Kennedy, Jack's mom, is beyond grateful for the kindness shown to her family by the community. She and her family moved to Warwick from Hawthorne eight years ago. She is partners with Greg Jayne in the Ellenville Dodge dealership and worked at the Warwick Dodge. Even with all of these connections, Diane didn't feel she knew that many people in the community. She has a different opinion today. "They're amazing people," Kennedy said about the Warwick police. "The whole community has been great. "Tommy's family (McGovern) have been phenomenal," she added. "They've helped take care of my other children so I can be with Jack in the hospital. The Sanfordville school community is wonderful." Kennedy caught his shirttail on a candle in his mom's bathroom and panicked. His sister and mom helped put the fire out, with Diane burning her hand in the process. But Jack received burns on 30 percent of his body, mostly his back, shoulders, and neck. "He was burned right down to the muscle," said his mom. "It was horrible. He has had about six surgeries and procedures since then and can finally start to see his friends now." Diane said Jack is expected to come home by the one-month mark, maybe this weekend. "It is amazing," she said. "One week ago he went into recovery from survival." During those first painful weeks, Jack's kidney's failed and he was put on a ventilator. Now, he is walking, getting physical therapy and even some visits from his friends and siblings. Jack is the youngest of five, including Ronnie, 20, Samantha, 17, Joey, 11, and Cassie, 10. Diane said that the three youngest are like triplets—all sleeping in the same room together even though they have their own. "They are really looking forward to him coming home," she said. Jack has a tough road ahead of him. Diane said her son will have many surgeries in his future. His entire body has been affected. From the waist up he was burned. Everywhere else has been used for skin grafts. Those who know him, though, aren't really surprised at his strength and recovery. "His name is Jack Kennedy," said McGovern. "I call him ‘Mr. President.' When the helicopter came to bring him to Westchester I reminded him this service is usually reserved for presidents and important people like him. "He's a tough little kid."