Jackson Heights park to be renamed in tribute to beloved student


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com |

Photo courtesy of Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton
Photo courtesy of Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton

Those who knew Rory Staunton say it would be a fitting tribute.

The newly-acquired Parks Department property at the Garden School athletic field in Jackson Heights may soon bear his name. The 12-year-old lost his life last April due to sepsis poisoning after falling while playing basketball in his school’s gym. What doctors believed to be a minor wound later became infected and led to his death.

Rory was a student at the Garden School. Although he lived in Sunnyside with his father Ciaran, mother Orlaith and sister Kathleen, he loved to help out in the Jackson Heights community. He enjoyed working side by side with his dad, a board member of the Garden School. Ciaran Staunton was one of the main individuals who pushed for the field to be used as a park instead of developing it into a 10-story apartment building.

After hearing from the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, Councilmember Daniel Dromm and other elected officials, Community Board 3 on April 18 voted unanimously to have the field renamed after Rory.

The proposal was inspired by the hard work the boy and his father did to help save the park for future generations.

“We as a group felt it was fitting to name it after Rory,” said Dudley Stewart, president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. “The community board vote was a huge relief. It was great to recognize that the community stands behind this proposal. We felt really gratified and very happy.”

Ciaran Staunton said his son helped draw up the plans for the park before he passed away. The father added that Rory was “very green” and always tried to do what was right.

“Our family is very honored,” he said. “It’s a comforting feeling they [children] will be playing in Rory Staunton field for their whole lives.”

Ciaran Staunton recalled an invitation to the White House for St. Patrick’s Day last year. He took his son, who was inspired by the trip to the president’s home.

“He was eyeing the office for himself,” Staunton said.

Since the boy’s passing, the Staunton family has worked hard to raise awareness of sepsis. Governor Andrew Cuomo dubbed legislation to fight sepsis Rory’s Regulations.

Even with all the support they have received for renaming the park, the Stauntons still have to wait for the Parks Department to give official approval.

“It would be fit to honor him in such a way,” said Dromm. “He was only 12 years old [but] had a tremendous impact on the community.”

The Parks Department did not respond to calls as of press time.

 

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