Category Archives: News Articles

Donation to the Glen Oaks Little League

The Steven Petillo Fields of Dreams Foundation, Inc. is proud to have been able to recently donate $5000 to the Glen Oaks Little League to sponsor the Challenger Divisions.

The Foundation has paid for all registration expenses and new equipment for the children.

Below are some of the children we have sponsored to play Spring Baseball.

Please visit our Gallery to see more pictures of the baseball players in action!

A Letter From the Co-Director of the Glen Oaks Little League Challenger Division

I wanted to share a story with you. We are the Glen Oaks Little League Challenger Division for Special Needs Children. Our division is located in Glen Oaks Queens and I would like to share how special our league is along with our children.

Our season has just started and we just completed our second game of the season. The Glen Oaks Little League Challenger Division for Special Needs Children are in our second season. Last year, 2011 we started our Challenger Division with 20 special needs children and this year, 2012 we tripled our numbers.

Just batting and hitting the ball, puts a smile on these children’s faces. Even in the field when they try to catch the ball and throw it to first base.

Our challenger division was able to create 6 teams this year. 4 pee wee challenger division teams and 2 farm challenger division team for the special needs children who are a little more skilled and had a better understanding of the game this year.

We also have a special family that is helping us fund our Glen Oaks Little League Challenger Division. The Steven J. Petillo Field of Dreams. Steven was a 9 year old little boy who passed away in a terrible car accident. Steven played on the Glen Oaks Little League Division and had so much passion for the game. He also had a lot of passion for helping out other children also who had trouble playing the game and helping out others in other areas as well. The Steven J. Petillo Field of Dreams is the Glen Oaks Little League Challenger Division little angel. Steven is giving these children to play baseball and is watching over them as they are having fun and really enjoying themselves.

I would like to share our story with all.

Thank you,

Jodi Aronoff – co-director of the Glen Oaks Little League Challenger Division

Remembering Steven Petillo

Opening Day for the Glen Oaks Little League was like many others in its 60-year history. Lines of kids marched in the annual parade to the ballfield before dissolving into a chaotic mixture of team colors, hot dogs and flying baseballs.

But one tiny ballplayer would only be there in spirit this season.

Glen Oaks lawmakers, friends and fellow Little Leaguers gathered to honor 9-year-old Steven Petillo, of Floral Park, who died in a car accident last year when truck collided with the family’s van on I-95 in Virginia.

Petillo had a lifetime of innings ahead of him, but he probably could never have matched his love of the game at 9.

“He was a lifelong Yankee fan,” said his father, Mike Petillo. “I remember by the time he was 3 years old, he would call me at work and update me on the games.”

Steven was obsessed with the game. He pitched and played shortstop and would fill in any position that was needed.

“Baseball was his life,” Petillo said.

And Petillo would know: He was Steven’s coach.

Petillo has decided to coach again this year in honor of his son. The Steven Petillo Yankees will always be a player short, but Petillo felt it was the right thing to do.

“It’s all his buddies. It’s what he would want us to do,” Petillo said as his wife, Maria, clutched Steven’s team jersey, a small shirt bearing the number 55 — the same number of Steven’s favorite former Yankee, Hideki Matsui.

But these Yankees do not play in pinstripes. All the jerseys are red, in honor of Steven’s favorite color.

In addition to the shirt, the league presented the family, including Steven’s mother and his older brothers Nicholas and Vincent, with a plaque and plan to install a series of stars behind home plate.

“He was just a great kid and will be deeply missed,” Petillo said. “It’s amazing how a family can completely change in the blink of an eye.”

Steven’s peers will do their part as well, since if there was one thing he loved, it was a good baseball game.

Trip excitement stilled by crash

Driver pleads guilty in Interstate 95 crash that killed 9-year-old boy

Date published: 2/4/2011


Steven Petillo, 9, was so excited about his family’s trip to Williamsburg last summer he was the first person out the door at 4:30 a.m.

“He was the first one in the car with his pillow,” said his mother, Maria Petillo of Floral Park, N.Y.

The family of five had planned the vacation for eight months with two other families, traveling in separate cars. They left early to avoid Washington traffic.

The family crossed into Stafford County on southbound Interstate 95 around 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 16, 2010. They had stopped at a rest area near Dale City. Steven and his two older twin brothers, Nicholas and Vincent Petillo, both 14, had stocked up on tourist brochures for Water Country USA and Busch Gardens.

Maria Petillo was driving the family’s Chevrolet Venture minivan and her husband, Michael, was riding in the passenger seat in the front. Maria Petillo’s last memory of Steven speaking from his seat in the middle row–the safest seat, they thought–was about a ride at Busch Gardens.

He was looking through all the pamphlets, and asked Vincent if he’d go on a specific ride with him. Vincent said he would.

A minute later, Michael Petillo recalled, he heard what sounded like an explosion.

The family felt their minivan flip again and again, and it went down an embankment, landing on the roof.

Hanging upside down, Michael Petillo saw his wife was OK, then fought his way out of the car to check on the boys. He saw Nicholas and Vincent first. Both were injured and dazed with cuts, but alive. Then he saw Steven, and a U-shape in the van from the impact of the crash. “I knew he was gone,” Michael Petillo said.

Steven, a devoted Yankee fan and fifth-grader, died at the crash scene.

“You can’t believe how your life changes in the blink of an eye,” Maria Petillo said. “Your son is here, and then he’s not.”

Yesterday, the family traveled back to Stafford to be present as a Prince William man who crashed his pickup truck into their minivan was convicted in Stafford Circuit Court of reckless driving.

Araz Norrie Rashed, 55, pleaded guilty to reckless driving, a misdemeanor.

  • When Rashed is sentenced, he will face up to 12 months in jail.
  • The crash happened near the Garrisonville Road interchange.
  • Rashed was driving a pickup truck in the left southbound lane of I-95 when the the driver of the vehicle in front of him, in an Acura, braked, said Stafford prosecutor Eric Olsen.
  • That driver, a 40-year-old Stafford woman, told state police a vehicle had suddenly switched from the center lane to the left lane, and she had braked to avoid a collision, Olsen said.
  • Rashed was following the Acura too closely, Olsen said. Rather than stay in his lane, he struck the rear passenger side of the Acura, then swerved into the center lane of I-95 without looking, Olsen said.
  • That is when he struck the Petillo family’s van, traveling in the center lane.
  • “It was a violent crash,” Olsen said.
  • All of the occupants were wearing seat belts.
  • Rashed told police he was traveling 68 mph. The speed limit on that section of I-95 is 65 mph.
  • Defense attorney Stuart Sullivan said seven witnesses to the crash who spoke to state police gave no indication that his client was driving aggressively.
  • Sullivan said Rashed was reacting to the chain of events on the interstate, and that the Acura’s driver was “forced to hit her brakes rather abruptly.”
  • While that does not absolve Rashed of his ability to stop in time, things happened very quickly, Sullivan said. He stressed his client has a clean driving record and no criminal record, he said.
  • In an interview after court, Sullivan said his client is extremely distraught about Steven Petillo’s death, and has had difficulty sleeping since the crash.
  • Rashed, who is Kurdish, was born in Iraq. He became an American citizen as part of a program that allowed Kurds persecuted by Saddam Hussien to come to the United States, Sullivan said.
  • Fluent in Arabic, Rashed worked as a translator for the U.S. Army as a contractor in Iraq from 2006 to 2008.
  • Rashed also recently received a security clearance from the Department of Defense, Sullivan said. He is also the sole guardian of a 16-year-old child, he said.
  • As part of the case’s sentencing phase, the Petillo family can submit victim testimony. Yesterday the family brought an envelope to court stuffed with letters and pictures on construction paper, created by Steven’s neighborhood friends and baseball teammates.
  • Baseball was their son’s greatest passion after his family, the Petillos said.
  • “He just knew everything about the game,” Michael Petillo said.
  • When Steven was only 3, he called his father at work to fill him on the score of a ongoing game.
  • On the field, Steven enjoyed pitching, playing shortstop and third base.
  • He was an especially caring child for someone so young, and was attentive to his grandfather, who had diabetes, his father said.
  • “He loved to help people,” he said.
  • His mother said her son’s absence in their family is like a puzzle that can never be complete again.
  • “He’s got cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents that just miss him so much. It’ll never be the same,” Maria Petillo said.
  • The couple buried Steven in his baseball uniform, along with an autographed baseball that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez sent the family after hearing about the crash.
  • Steven would’ve turned 10 on Nov. 17.
  • The family urged anyone in a rush to think twice before speeding.
  • “If a person thinks of racing down a highway, getting somewhere they have to be, leave earlier. It’s just not worth it,” Michael Petillo said. “Just think about the impact this can have on a family.”