The New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund was founded in 1985 by Daniel J. “Rusty” Staub. Rusty is well-known for his professional baseball career and played for the Houston Astros, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, and Texas Rangers. In 1986, he was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, and Canadian Baseball Halls of Fame and was the first player from the Montreal Expos to have his number retired.
Although celebrated for his baseball triumphs, Rusty has spent the latter part of his life giving back to the New York community, which he called home for many years. Around the time he was preparing to retire from baseball, he heard the story of a New York City Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty and left behind a wife and three children. This tragic news reminded Rusty of his uncle, a New Orleans Police Officer, who died when Rusty was a child. He knew firsthand how emotionally and financially devastating a loss like this could be for a first responder’s family. With that in mind, he was inspired and determined to help families in the same situation.
The Early Years
In addition to providing financial support to the families, Rusty organized an annual picnic at Shea Stadium, the then home of the NY Mets. This was an opportunity for the families to come together as one larger family and enjoy a fun day of baseball. Each year they were reminded that Rusty and other supporters would never forget the sacrifice their loved ones made to protect our community and would, in return, always be there to support them. Now called our “Annual Game and Family Day” and held at Citi Field, this event is still a beloved tradition of our families and supporters alike.
9/11 and After
On September 11, 2001, the number of families we served tragically doubled. We lost over three hundred NYC First Responders that devastating day. Initially, we were unsure how we would be able to afford to provide financial support to so many grieving families in the days and decades to come. However, because of the the incredible generosity of our supporters, the outpouring of support we received from people and companies across the country, and the fiscal responsibility of our leadership, we were able to continue to provide assistance to these families as well as all the other families who had lost a loved one in the line of duty. In addition, we amended our policy to also include EMS personnel and Port Authority officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Today, NYC first responders remain unwavering in their commitment to keep New York safe. Each and every day, our first responders continue to go out into the community and selflessly risk their lives to help keep others safe. Sadly, this means we continue to have some heroes make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and thus the number of families we serve continues to grow. Last year alone, we provided assistance to 600 families and distributed over $4 million.
As long as we have brave men and women willing to risk their lives in the line of duty for the sake of others, we hope, with your help, to “Answer the Call” for the families they have left behind.
We thank Rusty for his vision and determination to build a better future for the families of our fallen first responders.
*We are not affiliated with the Rusty Staub Foundation.