Money donated to three charities in memory of Joe

By Hayden Moore

A CHANCE encounter between a Dublin Firefighter and an American college football fan five years ago has led to the donation of €2,000 to three different Irish charities.

The family of Joe Favinger travelled over to Ireland from America last week to put a face to the name of Tallaght Firefighter, Derek Riordan, and gave him €2,000 to thank him for supporting them as they dealt with the loss of their son to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS).

Fire Cheque 02 1

Peter Navan (District officer, Tallaght Fire Station, Evelyn Griffith (Can Teen Ireland) and Firefighter Derek Riordan

40 members of the Favinger family made the trip from Pennsylvania and they along with Derek decided to donate the money to three charities in memory of his late friend – with CanTeen Ireland receiving €500 in a cheque presentation at Tallaght Fire Station on Tuesday, June 25.

Joe, a 25-year-old nurse at the University of Pennsylvania, was found dead in his Philadelphia apartment just four months after attending Penn States clash with University of Central Florida in Croke Park in August 2014.

On the night of the Croke Park Classic, Derek sported a t-shirt that read ‘Dublin Fire Brigade Supports Penn State’ across the back and having met Joe in Fitzsimons Bar, a friendship was immediately struck up between the two.

By the time the game ended, Joe, a Penn State fan, had convinced the Tallaght man to give him the custom shirt and they kept in touch over the months before 25-year-old Joe was found dead in January of 2015.

In Joe’s honour, Derek made a similar t-shirt except on this occasion he added his friends name and college football number ‘31’ and sent it Stateside.

Joe Favinger 1

Joe Favinger sadly passed away in 2015

Mr Riordan explained what happened next: “The family went mad for them. They were holding a benefit night in their local college and asked me if I could send over 300 t-shirts – I couldn’t believe it.”

Over $100,000 was raised at the fundraiser.

Fast forward to last week when Joe’s parents Richard and Mary met Derek for the first time in an emotional meeting at Tara Street Fire Station, and they presented him with not only €2000 but the original t-shirt too.

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, CanTeen Ireland and First Light were all chosen to receive the donation.

Following the tour of the Dublin Fire Brigade Headquarters, Joe and the Favinger family headed back to where it all began, Fitzsimons in Temple Bar.

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