Police Officer Owen Ortiz has upheld his oath to save lives. Now he needs help to save his.
His fellow 49th Precinct brothers and sisters in blue will host an October 2nd fundraiser for the nine-year veteran, who is fighting Stage IV cancer.
The Pine Bar & Grill at 1634 Eastchester Road will be open exclusively for the fundraiser that evening.
Organizers will hold raffles on hot items from professional New York sports teams. The grand raffle prize is a private concert by pop sensation Katy Perry.
The cancer was found in Ortiz’ cheek last year, and soon settled into his head, neck and throat.
He initially beat it after undergoing daily radiation treatments.
But it soon returned.
The months have been rough for Ortiz, who once weighed 260 pounds, a “teddy bear” with a frame that came in handy while playing football for Syracause University.
“He’s going to sack this cancer,” said 49th Precinct Community Affairs Police Officer Vic DiPierro. Ortiz’s ordeal hits home for DiPierro, himself a survivor of cancer, a result of working on The Pile at the World Trade Center site after 9/11.
But Ortiz’ potentially life-saving treatments came with unintended consequences, namely an intestinal condition and recurring fever.
His lack of daily food intake brought down Ortiz’s weight. The treatment also placed a burden on his finances. After several weeks of daily treatments, his NYPD benefits for cancer treatment expired, explained DiPierro. Ortiz has now accrued several out-of-pocket expenses, a tough spot for a married father of a 4-year-old daughter.
Ortiz joined the NYPD ranks in 2003, eventually assigned in 2006 to the 49th Precinct covering Morris Park, Allerton, Van Nest and Pelham Parkway.
“He’s the kind of guy you want to be around off-duty because he’s a fun guy,” said DiPierro. “And he’s the kind of guy you want on-duty because he is an awesome police officer.”
The Tuesday, Oct. 2 fundraiser will run from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $20, available at the door or by calling DiPierro at (718) 918-2025, or Sergeant Ryan Hughes or Police Officer Eric Rivera at (718) 319-8435. Donations are always accepted.
Visitors can also visit www.gofundme.com/owenortiz, where anyone can donate and leave an inspiring message.
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383