Detective Carlos Sanz-Batista seemed to be healthy, until he passed out on the bathroom floor and was found by his wife Michelle. What was thought to be a bleeding ulcer was later diagnosed as stage IIIB gastric cancer. The Township of North Bergen banded together to honor Detective Sanz-Batista at the Nutrition Center and also had a district “Dress Down Day.” Both “Fiesta Night Benefit Dinner” and “Dress Down Day” took place on Friday, Nov. 9. The total collected was $11,745.
Carlos Sanz-Batista is a quiet person who was awe struck by the outpouring support of the town. His diagnose of stage IIIB gastric cancer on Sept. 14 turned his life upside down. It was operable and resulted in the removal of his stomach and spleen on Sept. 24. Stage IIIB gastric cancer invades a layer of the stomach and several lymph nodes.
“I didn’t even know I was sick,” said Carlos.
“North Bergen is a big town but when it comes to its people they take care of each other.” –Superintendent Robert Dandorph
“I have to be strong for him,” said Elva.
Revered by many
“There’s a solidarity in the town,” said Detective Dino Apostolakos. “He’s a brother to us. The town is really supportive of their officers.”
“With the support he’s getting it shows what he means to the community of North Bergen,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco.
“We wish him good health,” said Chief Robert Dowd.
“This is a family community, if one has a problem, everyone has a problem,” said resident Bertha Wiley. “This is what North Bergen’s all about.”
Sanz-Batista has been working with the North Bergen Police Department for 12 years and was previously at the Sheriff’s Department.
‘Fiesta Night Benefit Dinner’ and ‘Dress Down Day’
While the medical expenses continue to rise, the township decided to take action.
The benefit dinner was held at the Nutrition Center and required a $25 donation per person that was strictly for adults. It was initiated by Marie Bourbon, who works in the Police Department’s Record Room. There were also baskets made by township employees which were raffled off. The food, entertainment, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages were in abundance.
A tearful Carlos and his wife Michelle thanked everyone for their support.
“North Bergen has been great to me and I just want to say thank you,” said Carlos.
“I can’t even describe how grateful I am to see how many people care for my husband,” said Michelle. “Your love really helps us get through it, day by day.”
Public Safety Commissioner Theresa Ferraro assured Carlos that he would be fine and she would make sure of it.
Those who attended were members of the community as well as supporters from surrounding towns, fellow police officers, retired officers like Detective Frank Pinto, township employees, Mayor Sacco, Commissioner Ferraro and Chief Dowd.
Reverend Peter Wehrle of Our Lady of Fatima Church said a prayer for Carlos.
“We ask that (Carlos) may come out of this conquering all and that he may always feel the support of those who are praying for him,” said Wehrle.
Several local businesses contributed to the cause. They were Gandalfo’s, Domino’s, Chicken Delight, La Sorrentino, Tapas De Espana, Cuomo’s Deli, New Foliage, Antonia’s Boulevard Diner, Palermo’s, Rose’s Deli, Gold and Silver Concepts, Blossom Nails, Broadway Liquors, Restaurant Depot, P.C. Richards, Aimee Focaraccio, and DJ Jason Diaz.
The benefit dinner resulted in $9,100 being collected.
Joe Sitty, retired DARE instructor for the district, organized a district-wide “Dress Down Day” for teachers, teachers aids and administrators. Each person who took part donated $5 for the cause which resulted in $2,645.
“It was awesome to see everyone rally in all facets,” said Sitty. “He’s a brother police officer that has a family and a small daughter. My heart goes out to him and to his family. I just hope that he’s okay and he beats this cancer.”
Superintendent Robert Dandorph said that the school district has the best relationship with the police department.
“I think that one of the police officers that’s sick affects all of us,” said Superintendent Dandorph. “North Bergen is a big town, but when it comes to its people they take care of each other.”
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org