In March of 2018, the world dimmed a bit with the loss of a young soul with a “lit-from-within” personality and an engaging smile, our nineteen-year-old son Mark Dombroski. There’s a chance you heard our story as it made national and international news. Our story is not only about loss but ultimately about creating a lasting tribute to his kindness. In honoring an extraordinary life well lived, we have opened our hearts to a community like no other.
How One Extraordinary Soul Launched a Community Effort to Build a New Playground in his Honor
Mark was in Bermuda with his St Joseph’s University Rugby team, playing in an international tournament. Mark went missing on the team’s last night in Bermuda. Hundreds of people searched for him all over the island. Search efforts were followed closely by the press as his friends and family awaited news of his safety. Ultimately, Mark was found but not alive, succumbing to injuries resulting from an accidental fall.
Mark was dearly loved by many. His too-soon death created a tidal wave of shock and grief for his family, friends, teammates, classmates, neighbors, and the Delaware County community. In fact, over one thousand people attended Mark’s funeral to honor his life. Hundreds of cars accompanied our sweet son to his gravesite. As a result, traffic halted on a major highway in our area allowing for the procession of cars to make their way.
The Focus of this Story is not Loss and Heartbreak, Rather Honoring a Life Well Lived
Ultimately, Mark’s story is about the abundant flow of love and kindness. His story is about the outpouring of love that has come to our family and our response. We have binders full of letters sent from Mark’s friends detailing the positive impact he made on their lives. Friends, coaches, teachers, priests, neighbors, and my yoga students have cried with us. This special young man meant so much to so many people. He will not be forgotten and his life will be honored.
“We knew that we had to somehow make the impact of Mark’s love for others outweigh our grief.”
During our time in Bermuda, we learned a GoFundMe had been started rewarding information leading to Mark’s discovery and assisting with our expenses. When we heard the crushing news of our son’s passing, we immediately asked to have that fund switched to a new purpose, the Mark Dombroski Foundation, and selected a mission based on youth education, athletics, safety, and well-being.
We could not conceive of a world where Mark’s kindness and goodness would not have an opportunity to live on and benefit others. Most importantly, we knew we had to somehow make the impact of Mark’s love for others outweigh our grief.
Thanks to hundreds of contributors, the Mark Dombroski Foundation has donated tens of thousands of dollars. Primarily, funds go to schools, athletic teams, food pantries, and groups that promote well-being and safety.
From Loss to a Lasting Tribute Where Smiles and Laughter will Echo in the Community
The Mark Dombroski Foundation’s current focus is fundraising for a playground at the Roosevelt Community Center, site of the new Middletown Free Library under construction in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The name is The Mark Dombroski Memorial Park, although we know it will be most frequently be called “Mark’s Park.”
Specifically, we look forward to seeing the smiles and hearing the children’s laughter who one day will be playing at Mark’s Park. The combination of children’s literacy, fun, and healthy outdoor play is a great way to continue Mark’s legacy. It is in this laughter, we will continue honoring an extraordinary life well lived. Our goal is to raise enough money to have this playground installed in 2022.
For more information, or to make a donation, please visit MarkDombroskiFoundation.org