LOWER MAKEFIELD >> A butterfly fluttered through the air, occasionally landing on one of the many gift baskets on display at the park’s pavilion just off of Edgewood Road.
Friends and family of 14-year-old Josh Goldinger, who was struck and killed by a car in 2017 while riding his bike, thought it might be Josh winging his way by to check out the fun.
Josh’s mom, Maria, was sure it was him.
“My daughter really believes there is a connection with butterflies and Josh,” she said.
On Saturday, June 29 two years after Josh was tragically killed, his friends, family and many others gathered at the Edgewood park to play Frisbee - Josh’s favorite sport - and to take part in the first ever Josh’s Squad House Extravaganza.
The event included a Deluxe Frisbee Wall Jam, gift basket raffles, inclusive games, a “Be-The-Dj Booth,” the creation of “Josh’s Squad House Art Banner,” an obstacle course, complimentary food and drinks and plenty of smiles.
“He’d think this was sick,” said Josh’s mom, Maria. “That was his term when he thought something cool was going. He’d be impressed.”
Money raised by the event will help to establish a Frisbee Wall in the township and support Josh’s Squad House, a tax-exempt charitable organization to support and encourage township youth to embrace their unique individuality and to help foster an environment of acceptance and encouragement.
Josh’s father, Scott, arrived with an armful of pizzas for the hungry frisbee players. He personally handed out slices inside the pavilion.
Nearby, Lower Makefield Supervisor Kristin Tyler was also on food duty, handing out freshly grilled hot dogs.
She came out to support Scott and Maria, their family and the work being done to keep Josh’s memory alive.
“I see our community here. I see a lot of the nonsense falling away. I see neighbors doing what, in our hearts, we’re meant to do, which is to be neighbors and be a community,” said Tyler. “I see people supporting the Goldinger family.
“I feel very sad when I think about Josh and what their family has gone through, but I’m so glad the community is here because I don’t want them forgotten.
“When the unthinkable happens, there’s nothing really that you can do except to be there when they need you to be there and come out and show up and respect the memory of their son,” she said.
Also stopping by to support the event were State Senator Steve Santarsiero, State Rep. Perry Warren, Supervisor Suzanne Blundi and Dan Grenier, the chairman of the board of supervisors.
“It’s nice to see everyone come together in a very positive way following a very tragic event,” said Grenier. “This shows the respect and the love Josh had. It’s nice to see. And hopefully this will gain some awareness for the cause and raise some money for the projects Josh’s Squad House is sponsoring.”
Not far away, kids were racing through an obstacle course set up by the Kalinowski Performance Academy.
“It’s just something to have some fun with,” Coach John Kalinowski. “It’s to market fitness and having fun rather than to take things too seriously.”
Kalinowski was invited to participate in the event by Mike Brody, a close friend of the Goldinger family. “We teach our kids the right thing to do in life and a lot of it comes down to helping your neighbors. So anytime we have an opportunity to help out the community we help out.”
As a youngster raced through the obstacle trying to beat her best time, Kalinowski said everyone who helped put the event together did a great job. “And it’s an upbeat event, which is good. I think the whole thing is great and the idea of Josh’s Squad House is one the community should support.”
And speaking of support, Maria expressed appreciation for everyone who came out on June 29 for the family and for Josh’s Squad House.
“We are very grateful everyone has come out today,” said Maria. “These are people we know, some who we don’t know, some just acquaintances and others very good friends and family. They came out, showed up, volunteered, followed through and it’s all for our family and our cause.
“We feel just honored that the community came out today, helped us, supported us, are raising money to help all of Josh's friends and are keeping Josh’s name and his memory alive,” said Maria.