Some people refer to the guys on the Madison Square Garden ice as heroes. While there’s nothing wrong with being a fan and adoring them, calling them heroes causes us to lose sight of what a hero really is.
Steven McDonald…was a hero.
The third-generation New York Police Department officer, a police detective, passed away on Tuesday of a heart attack suffered a few days prior. He was 59.
Prior to his service with the NYPD, McDonald, a Queens Village native, served in another well know organization of heroes, the US Navy, as a hospital corpsman. He joined the NYPD afterwards. While on patrol in July 1986, McDonald was shot in Central Park by a suspect in a series of bicycle thefts three times. Shot in the head, throat and spin, the incident left him quadriplegic, forcing him to a wheelchair and a ventilator for the remainder of his life.
In the face of great adversity, McDonald became a symbol of hope, bravery, strength and forgiveness. Though McDonald never met with the man who nearly killed him in person, he publicly offered him his forgiveness. McDonald’s son, with whom his wife Patti was pregnant with at the time of his shooting, would follow in his father’s footsteps and joined the force in 2010.
McDonald was known for his love of the Rangers, and, during the 1987-88 season, the team began the “Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award”, given to a Ranger who always gave an extra effort and rose in the face of adversity. Jan Erixon was the first recipient of the award, earning another in in 1991, and Mats Zuccarello is the most recent winner, his second after winning it in 2014. McDonald and his family would appear in person to present the award, presenting a trophy to the winner, as well as a check in the winner’s name of $25,000 made out to the Steven McDonald Foundation.
The Rangers have asked all attending Friday night’s game against Toronto at Madison Square Garden to wear blue in honor of McDonald.