BP Honors Little Joey Fabus

BP Honors Little Joey Fabus

Krista Vandyke, Staff Writer

This past week, Bethel Park lost a little hero with a big story. Little Joey Fabus left an impact on the community that will never be forgotten.

Last April, Washington third grader Joey Fabus started having vision problems which prompted a visit to the eye doctor.

Shortly afterwards, in the middle of May, Joey’s family’s world was turned upside down as they discovered Joey’s vision problems were the first signs of his diagnosis: DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma). DIPG is an inoperable brain tumor with no cure and leaves patients 9-12 months to live.

An 8-year-old boy who was supposed to have his entire life ahead of him, Joey’s family, friends, and the community reached out to make sure the next 9 months would be the best that they could be for Joey.

It all started when Bethel Park Police Officer Tom Rigatti made Joey’s dream of becoming a police officer come true. Joey was sworn in as a police officer for a day. He got his own uniform and got to ride in the police car, and he even pulled over Officer Rigatti’s daughter for going through a stop sign outside of the police station. With his big heart, Joey decided to let her go and not give her a ticket.

The community was so touched by the police department’s actions that everyone wanted to hear more of Joey. This is when Joey’s family decided to share Joey’s story with the world through a Facebook page called Joey’s Journey. Joey’s parents, Cindy and David Fabus, shared all of the ups and downs of Joey’s story with over 5,000 people who “liked” the page.

Over the past few months, many people have reached out and made several special events happen for Joey. Joey’s cousin, Justin Fabus, held a benefit concert with his band to raise money and “make people forget about the pain and heartache for a few hours.”

Various sports teams held events in honor of Joey, and the National Honor Society held a Halloween parade and party for Joey’s neighbors, friends, and family, since Halloween was Joey’s favorite holiday. Wristbands and t-shirts have been sold to many students and members of the community as everyone wanted to be a part of Little Joey’s Army.

Joey’s friends and classmates made cards and sent presents, and there was even a build-a-bear wearing a police uniform at Joey’s desk in class whenever Joey was unable to go to school.

Joey also received memorable surprises like getting to throw the first pitch on opening day at PNC Park.

June 24, 2014 was designated as Joey Fabus Day in Bethel Park, and August 29, 2014 in the City of Pittsburgh.

All of this was done for one very special boy who deserved the best last few months of his life. Joey passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, surrounded by his loving family. But Joey’s story does not end there.

Joey was given the funeral a real fallen officer would receive. He was buried in his police uniform, and police officers from departments all over, even out of state, showed up to honor their police brother. The funeral procession was huge with countless police vehicles.

Roads were closed for the procession as Bethel Park residents and students lined the procession route with “Stay Joey Strong” signs in support of the Fabus family. School was closed not only due to snow, but due to the road closings. This prompted many students to get up early on their snow day, make signs, and go out and show their support for Joey despite the bad weather.

Joey’s Journey truly brought the Bethel Park community together as everyone was praying for a miracle for Little Joey. No one should ever have to go through what Joey and his family did.

Please consider donating to the Fabus family and donating to the Joey Fabus Childhood Cancer Foundation. Every little bit makes a difference. One day, a cure will be found so that no child will have to suffer from this terrible disease like Joey did.

BPHS students wearing "Joey's Soldiers" shirts show their support of Joey Fabus.
BPHS students wearing “Joey’s Soldiers” shirts show their support of Joey Fabus.
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