VOORHEES, NJ (CBS) — A whole community is stepping in to help fill the void after a boy lost his father to cancer. Jerry Bonsall had a relatively short life, but as 3 On Your Side’s Dave Huddleston shows us, it was full of friends who want to help the boy he left behind.
Matthew Bonsall is five and a half and loves pretending to be a police officer. His mom Janice is always willing to play along.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” she asked him.
“S.W.A.T.,” said Matt.
“Yeah, like who?” Janice asked.
“Daddy,” Matthew said.
Dad was Jerry Bonsall, a veteran of the Voorhees Township Police Department. In December 2005, the same year Matt was born, Jerry was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. He endured four and a half years of chemotherapy before dying in April at the age of 41.
“It was an extremely difficult time for him,” Janice said, “but his goal was to stay strong and be here as long as he could so Matthew could get to know him.”
Jerry loved his job, catching fish, and ice hockey. On their off time, Jerry’s fellow officers practice for a new season in their local men’s ice hockey league.
“He was like a cop’s cop,” said Nick Gruber, a Voorhees police officer.
“Anything you needed, you’d call Jerry, and he’d be right there for you,” Ken Sacavitch of Voorhees Township Police said.
After losing Jerry, they decided their first game of the season would be a fundraiser for Matthew’s college fund.
“We’re just trying to show Matthew what kind of person and what kind of officer and everything his dad was,” said Ken.
On a Sunday in September, Jerry’s son Matthew was the star of the show.
“We just feel so blessed to have so much support and it’s really helped us get through a very difficult time,” said Janice.
This game and other fundraisers have helped raise thousands so Matthew can go to college and one day be just like Dad.
Donations can be sent to the 3443 Fund c/o Captain Louis Bordi, 1180 White Horse Rd., Voorhees, NJ 08043.
Got an idea for a Brotherly Love story? Email Dave at Huddleston@CBS3.com.
Reported By: Dave Huddleston, CBS 3