New York Daily News

December 10, 2016, 2:09 PM

  

 

Police union holiday party spreads cheer to NYPD widows and children

BY DALE W. EISINGER, LARRY MCSHANE

Captain America, Wonderwoman and Batman pose with fallen Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo's sons, Austin, 4, and Joseph, 3, and his wife.  (HOWARD SIMMONS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

At a holiday celebration featuring Batman, Wonder Woman and Captain America, the real heroes were missing.

The police union’s annual Widows and Children’s Holiday Party once again brought together the families torn apart by an officer’s death in the line of duty.

“You know everyone is in the same situation,” said Casey Ryan, 16, whose father Sgt. Michael Ryan died in 2007 of 9/11-related cancer. “You’re not alone.”

The National Anthem echoed through Grand Central Terminal as the families members gathered Saturday inside Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse NYC on the mezzanine level.

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill (l.) and the Zadroga family (r.) pose for photos with Santa.  (HOWARD SIMMONS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

There were pictures with Santa and gifts for the kids, with the adults left to toast those lost across the years. Entertainers dressed as superheroes wandered through the crowd, while a clown distributed balloon animals.

Casey Ryan received a hug and a kiss from Tyler Ann Zadroga, whose father James was another victim of the toxins at Ground Zero.

“This is important to me because I get to see my friends who I made because of this situation we’re all in,” said Tyler Ann. now 15. “And at this event, I get to see all the friends I made because of what happened to our families.”

Guests line up for food at the party Saturday held at Grand Central Terminal. (HOWARD SIMMONS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Maria Dziergowski became a widow 17 years ago when her husband Matthew sacrificed his life to save some of his NYPD blue brothers.

The 16-year police veteran pulled his patrol car into the path of a speeding SUV with a drunken driver at the wheel to block the vehicle from plowing into cops at a Staten Island accident.

“I still get letters and cards from all those officers my husband saved,” said Maria Dziergowski. “And we look forward to this all years ... This is like being with family.”

"King of Queens" star Kevin James sits on Santa's lap. (HOWARD SIMMONS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

The hardest part, she said, is welcoming the new arrivals while their pain is still fresh. The widow of Officer Paul Tuozollo, shot to death just last month, was spotted at the event.

Dziergowski — who was pregnant with her 17-year-old son Matthew when her husband was killed in 1999 — recalled the reception given her after the tragedy.

“It was overwhelming but it was really comforting to see how everyone came to our aid,” she said. “The scariest part of all is the idea of raising children alone. And this is like being with family.”