Charlie Gambino graduated from Sachem North in 2014 and at 21-years-old has already declared he will spend his life dedicated to making sure current and future generations never forget the heroic actions of the brave men and women who were involved in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Gambino, a Lake Ronkonkoma native, is vice president of the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park in Nesconset and is a senior at St. Joseph’s College majoring in accounting. The park is the first one that honors the names of victims who passed away after Sept. 11 due to related illnesses.
Ray Pfeifer, a former FDNY firefighter who lost his battle with 9/11 related cancer, befriended Gambino in recent years. One quote he most famously quipped, that will forever stay with Gambino is, “Do the right thing, even when nobody’s looking”.
Pfeifer would be proud of Gambino who lives by that sentiment.
We asked him his thoughts on Sachem, his future and his passion for honoring others:
How did Sachem impact your life and career choices: “With each academic year passing by, I always had teachers that I could learn something from. It is hard to put it into words, what Sachem has done to impact my life and career choices. I also cannot forget about my incredibly supportive family. In regards to my career choices, it all started with my family accountant to be honest. To see him interact with myself and my family and how knowledgeable he was – and still is – about the tax laws and what we could and could not do to lessen our taxable income and of course how wicked fast he was on his calculator. That is when I knew accounting was for me. I was also fortunate to take an accounting class in my senior year of high school taught by one amazing human being and an all-around great teacher, Mr. Sullivan. To have him sit with me and take time out and reinforce certain points that I was otherwise struggling with made learning with him so enjoyable.”
What was your best memory from Sachem: “I have two to be quite honest. My first one is the message the school pushed – especially our old principal John Dolan – ‘We Are Sachem.’ With that quote in mind, the most memorable moment I had was when my brother Nicholas Gambino, the current Sachem North varsity quarterback, had played his first ever season of football for Samoset Middle School and they were playing against Longwood. During the game after a rough play, he had broken his femur. Fast forward a few weeks after he was home from the hospital and recovering from his surgery we had a knock on our door one night; and it was one of the moms from the Sachem Touchdown Club. On behalf of all the coaches and players, they brought Nick a nice get-well basket with all these sweets and goodies. That one act of kindness, truly out of all the great years I had at Sachem, made it the most memorable.”
What career goals have you set for yourself: “As an aspiring CPA, my biggest goal is to become partner one day as well as many other fruitful opportunities that are already starting to grow. First and foremost, it’s always about doing what you love, because if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. Whatever I truly end up doing, I want to make my mark as well as help build up the people around me.”
Why are you so involved with 9/11 remembrance; where does this passion come from? “I have been asked this question so many times over the past three or four years. As humorous as it sounds, it all started at the gym. I have had a friend by the name of John Feal who asked me if I would like to go to Hauppauge High School and hear him speak about 9/11. The moment I heard him speak to these students about everything that had transpired during 9/11 and after I knew in my heart, this is what I want to do.
After being involved with the FealGood Foundation for several months I was fortunate enough to become an honorary director and board member of the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park. Most recently as of February 2017, I was appointed as second-vice president. While being involved with these two amazing foundations, I have met some of the most amazing and selfless people on this good Earth; and I will forever treasure the bonds I have and continue to forge with these heroes and their families.
What makes this so special is that one day when I am married and I have children, I will be able to tell the stories of these men and women who were our nations ‘Knights in Shining Armor’ during our nation’s darkest hours and I will show them what true honor, courage and sacrifice looks like. Furthermore, I made my family, my 9/11 family and these heroes family members a promise, and that is that I will do this until the day that I am no longer on this good Earth.”
-As told to Chris R. Vaccaro