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November 1, 2001

Staten Island Sadness

By Sanford Wexler

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The offices of Hill Thompson Magid in Jersey City, N.J., command a bird's eye view of the Lower Manhattan skyline. On Sept. 11, Nick Ponzio, the market maker's president and dozens of its traders, were stunned when their usual view turned into something horrible: The destruction and the eventual collapse of the World Trade Center.

"Our building looks right across the Hudson River," said Ponzio. "As we were watching the first tower smoke and smolder, we noticed a plane flying really low. The next thing you know it hooked a turn and it went right into the second tower."

On that fateful day, like countless others in the New York metropolitan area, Ponzio lost people he knew. "I lost one of my best friends," he said sadly.

Cantor Fitzgerald

The friend was John Badaglacca, a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. Badaglacca resided with his wife and their two small children in Staten Island, the same New York City borough that Ponzio calls his home.

"John was the kind of guy who would make everyone in a room laugh," Ponzio recalled. "He made me laugh every time I saw him and he never told me a joke."

Over 240 people from Staten Island are among the some 5,500 lost or missing in the World Trade Center attack, about five percent of the total.

At last count, there were over 100 charities raising money for the victims. Ponzio, like thousands of ordinary individuals, did not waste time thinking up a way to add to the funds.

Active in local charities, Ponzio serves on the boards of the Staten Island Children's Museum and Staten Island's Friends for Hospice Care. His latest contribution is a unique blend of Wall Street charity and Staten Island razzmatazz.

Ponzio, who co-owns the Staten Island Hockey Sports Facility, figured the best way he could help the victims' families in the borough was a day's proceeds to the Staten Island September 11th Fund. "When the Sept. 11th tragedy occurred," Ponzio said, "I immediately thought of how I could best use our sports facility to raise money."

So on the first Friday of last October, the sports facility raised some $5,000 for the fund.

The Staten Island September 11th Fund is supported by the Staten Island Advance, a local newspaper, the Staten Island Children's Campaign Fund, and the borough's congressman, Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.).

"I wanted to do something that was close to home," Ponzio said. "The proceeds of our event was expressly for the people on Staten Island."

The generosity has not gone unnoticed. "I don't think there is an individual on Staten Island who has not been touched directly or indirectly by this tragedy," said Rep. Fossella. "Nick Ponzio is reflective of the spirit that has resonated in Staten Island and across the country."

Hockey Player