“It just brought tears to my eyes when I read the email,” said DiMaso, who knew Alex well. “I just thought this is so perfect, to remember Alex this way.” As a teen and during breaks from college at Duke University, Alex volunteered on the Holmdel First Aid Squad. Lisa did too, offering essential administrative help to the squad. That’s where the family came to know Holmdel residents and volunteers Serena DiMaso, now a state assemblywoman, and Mike Nikolis, now a township committeeman. HOLMDEL – It comes as a surprise to some that this township, famous for its recreation areas, trails and greenways, doesn’t have its own dog park. Alex Ching, on a visit to a New York City dog park where his favorite corgis could be found. Ching, a resident of Holmdel, died in 2018 at age 24. There are plans to create a dog park in the township in his memory.Photo courtesy Lisa Ching Lisa reached out with a letter, proposing the idea. The next steps will be raising private funds and gathering feedback. The Chings will go on research missions to visit other dog parks and gather information on how they are designed, what features they include, where shade and entrances are located, how they are secured and maintained. They will be reporting back to the township committee as they formulate the plans. “Why doesn’t Holmdel have a dog park? We could do that,” said Lisa, who is championing the idea with husband Mike and children, Maddie and Ethan. A dog park brings people together to socialize, exchange ideas, get to know each other. And naturally, it makes the dogs happy, too. “We want to make the best ‘paw park’ in New Jersey,” said Lisa. Nikolis said the township has narrowed down a potential site for the dog park on township property that is in a convenient location, with water and shade. The governing body will consider the location and how to move forward with the proposed dog park at their next meeting. While several members of the family have careers in the engineering field, Lisa is the artist in the family. She had ideas about creating a space of beauty and vibrancy. “Alex is obviously the inspiration and the motivating force, but we also view it as a community project,” she said. “We were thinking about what he loved. He loved dogs. Therapy dogs made all the difference to him for his recovery and attitude,” said his mother Lisa Ching, who became a therapy dog volunteer herself when she saw the good it can do. The Ching family realized that recently, when brainstorming a way to pay tribute to their son’s memory. Alexander Ching, 24, died on Christmas morning 2018. A highly accomplished person despite battling cancer for 17 years, Ching had a big personality, a joy of life and an unbridled love for dogs, especially corgis. A dog park was even something the township committee could agree on. The five elected members, who have rarely agreed on much this election season, gave their approval for the Chings to move forward with the concept at their last meeting. By Christina Johnson She recalled how, when Alex was living in New York City, he made her come visit a dog park frequented by corgis and their owners. He couldn’t have a dog because dogs were not permitted in his apartment. But it was so typically Alex, she said, who maximized his short life with fun and enthusiasm, to go anyway to meet the corgis. “We want to figure out a way we can incorporate him, whether it’s a beautiful plaque, or something else.” Nikolis said it was the least the township could do, to recognize Alex’s life and Lisa’s contributions to fundraising for the volunteer squad. “It’s long overdue for Holmdel, and this is a wonderful memorial for Alex’s life to live on. The emotional, positive responses by people who hear about the idea have fueled the family’s excitement about doing something meaningful in memory of their son. “Quite honestly, the idea is really catching on,” Lisa said. Alex would be pleased, she knows.
The Kootenay Thunder earned respect from more than a few colleges and university coached during the Starfire Fieldturf Showcase Soccer Tournament this past weekend in Seattle.The Thunder finished the tourney with a 1-1-2 record.“The Thunder team impressed many coaches and teams with one U.S. College coach stating he would take the whole squad if he had the budget,” said Kootenay head coach Dave Spendlove, who runs the regional squad out of the Soccer Quest Indoor facility in Nelson.The team, consisting of players from throughout the Kootenay region along with a handful of imports from Kamloops and playing in the top division, opened the tournament by playing to a scoreless draw against Seattle Legacy.According to Spendlove, “Kootenay outplayed their American opponents in all departments but could not get the ball in the net.”Kootenay kept its goal-scoring drought alive in a 0-0 tie against Semiahmoo Scorpions of White Rock.Saturday afternoon the Thunder, playing its best half in two years, edged the Sun City Strikers 2-1.Kelsey Martin of Kamloops gave Kootenay a 1-0 lead. Martin converted a rebound off a Kootenay corner kick, depositing the ball quickly into the net after Sun City failed to clear the zone.Sun City tied the game ten minutes into the second half.However, Nelson’s Andrea Stinson, a thorn in the side of most teams during the tournament, was hauled down inside the penalty area.Stinson calmly collected herself before converting the penalty kick.The only blemish on the weekend came Sunday during the rain when Kootenay lost 1-0 to MRFC of Portland, Ore.The only goal came when the game referee incorrectly gave an indirect free kick inside the Kootenay penalty area for a pass back to the keeper.MRFC quickly took the kick and beat Kootenay keeper Kat Garbula of Nelson.“The Referee apologized to the Thunder coaching staff at half time saying he did not really see what happened on the pass back incident but made a quick decision which later his line assistant told him was wrong,” Spendlove explained. “The incident cost the Thunder their only loss of the weekend but the Thunder should still have won the game again not taking their chances in front of goal.”The tournament attracted more than 40 scouts from various U.S. colleges.This is the second time Soccer Quest has taken a team to Seattle.Next tournament for Kootenay is the Vancouver Whitecaps Showcase event March 2012 in Vancouver.firstname.lastname@example.org