Spotlight: Chris Falzone – Wish Child & Inspire Scholar Turned Student Associate
With the summer in full swing, it’s that time of year when we welcome an ambitious college student as an MSG Student Associate to our staff ranks at the Garden of Dreams Foundation. This year, we are overjoyed to welcome Chris Falzone!
As a former Garden of Dreams young person affiliated with our partner Make-A-Wish New Jersey, Chris is no stranger to the foundation’s work. Learn more about Chris’ journey, including what it’s like to be on the other side of the curtain, in the Q&A below.
How old were you when you first became involved with Garden of Dreams and what is one of your earliest memories at a Garden of Dreams event?
I first became involved with Garden of Dreams when I was 14 years old. The earliest memory I have is my Wish Day, when I spent skating with the New York Rangers at the MSG Training Center.
What was going through your mind when you were signed to a one-day contract with the New York Rangers on your Wish Day? How has that experience impacted other areas of your life?
Honestly, I was in disbelief when I was signed to a one-day contract with the New York Rangers. Everything was happening so fast that I couldn’t even process it. After being interviewed by different reporters all day and having my phone blow up with messages from friends and family, I felt that I was dreaming. Then, stepping onto The Garden ice for the National Anthem at the Rangers game calmed me down. I took one long look around at all the fans standing and said to myself, “Wow, I’m in the World’s Most Famous Arena, standing next to my idols – the New York Rangers.” It was by far the best day of my life and I wouldn’t trade a second of it for the world. The experience impacted other areas of my life as I felt I had become a part of a bigger community. Diehard Rangers fans have recognized me from that day on, and becoming part of the Garden of Dreams family has been something that I’ll forever be thankful for.
As a Garden of Dreams Inspire Scholarship recipient, what doors did your education help open for you?
I’m so grateful to be an Inspire Scholarship recipient and receive $40,000 towards my education at Monmouth University because it allowed me to focus on developing life skills and creating relationships without having to constantly consider the heavy burden of student loans. Through being able to focus on my education, I felt I was able to grow as a person and set myself up for future success.
If you could give advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be and why?
I would tell myself to not take anything for granted. Appreciate everything you have and live in the moment because you never know what can happen on a day-to-day basis.
As a current Garden of Dreams Student Associate, what has it been like to be on the other side of creating unforgettable experiences for the foundation’s young people?
Working as an employee with Garden of Dreams and being on the other side has been super rewarding. Everything has come full circle. Helping create unforgettable memories and seeing our young people’s faces light up is extremely heartwarming because I know what they’re feeling. When we recently visited the training center with a group of high school students, I got to re-live my own experience through their eyes. I remember being in awe walking through the locker room and seeing a jersey with my name on it. For them to experience that same feeling, but this time, getting to play a role in it myself, makes it twice as special. Even helping to organize the annual Inspire Scholarship event was so cool. To see and help in the behind-the-scenes process of setting the event up to eventually pulling it off was so rewarding.
What has your involvement with Garden of Dreams taught you about yourself and/or how has it inspired you?
Being involved with Garden of Dreams has taught me to push through adversity and inspire others with positivity. I know when I was going through my medical treatment, it was the Garden of Dreams Foundation that cheered me up and put a smile on my face. You never know when someone is going through a difficult time, therefore even doing something as little as giving a smile can make someone’s day. So, when I get a chance to do something nice for someone, I hope I can provide them the same feelings of joy that I felt to help them through whatever it is they’re going through.