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Former Met Rusty Staub hosts 31st annual NYPD, NYFD benefit

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Thirty-one years and still going, Rusty Staub's New York Police and Fire Widow's and Children's Benefit Fund continues to help out the families of our fallen heroes.Robert Sabo/New York Daily News

Thirty-one years and still going, Rusty Staub’s New York Police and Fire Widow’s and Children’s Benefit Fund continues to help out the families of our fallen heroes.

Former Met Rusty Staub and the New York Police and Fire Widow’s and Children’s Benefit Fund hosted more than 800 family members and supporters of fallen New York City Police Officers and Firefighters, Port Authority Police and EMS Personnel at its Annual Game and Family Day at Citi Field on Wednesday night.

The game’s first pitch was tossed out by children of three fallen New York heroes – Gabriella and Giovanna Ambelas, the daughters of FDNY Lt. Gordon “Matt” Ambelas of Ladder 119 who was killed in the line of duty in July 2014, Amanda Rivera, the daughter of NYPD officer William Rivera of 78th precinct, who died of injuries sustained in the line of duty in November 2004 and Justin Navas, the son of PAPD Officer Joseph Navas, who was killed on Sept. 11.

“There are many times I have taken a photograph with four generations of a family here – the grandmother, the mother, the child and the grandchild are all here. It’s our 31st picnic, that kind of speaks for itself,” Staub told the Daily News. “They get to see and be with people that have had this experience. A number of them get over it better when they’re amongst their friends that have already experienced this.”

“To this day, there are still wives that tell us that every once in a while, they sit in their living room and think their husband is going to walk through the door,” he continued. “It’s just one of those features of a tragic loss like that.”

Since its inception in 1985, the Benefit Fund has provided immediate and ongoing financial assistance in the form of annual distributions to grieving families after they lose their loved one. It also provides a network of support and gatherings for the families to cope and connect. Wednesday’s event featured a pre-game barbecue and family picnic.

“It is probably the most important day for the families of any day we have all year,” Staub told the Daily News by phone. “Obviously when we raise the money with a big dinner in October, that’s the most important day for the organization. But for the widows and kids, this is their day.”

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