POINT LOOKOUT, N.Y. — There was a special honor Thursday for a boy who lost his life on a Little League baseball field.
The Marines are naming this year’s Toys for Tots drive after . CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports his Long Beach community and his family are immensely grateful while still coming to grips with the death of the fourth grader.
Lazar died two days after his 10th birthday, suffering an epileptic seizure after hitting a baseball and running to first base.
“Every day is living a nightmare and just the love and support is what gets us through,” Lazar’s father, Gregg LaPenna, said.
His father was also his Long Beach-Point Lookout Little League coach.
“We’re overwhelmed to have this honor placed upon us, and in Lazar’s name,” LaPenna said.
Three weeks after his death, the United States Marines named Lazar LaPenna co-chair of the Toys for Tots program on Long Island, where this year they will distribute 750,000 toys in Lazar’s name.
“And we’re gonna honor this little boy because of his love of life and zest for playing ball and love of family because that’s what the Marine Corps is all about,” Major Chuck Kilbride said.
A plaque commemorating the child’s short life is going up at a local rec center, and ribbons of purple to raise awareness for the need of a cure for epilepsy adorn homes and Lazar’s school.
The field where Lazar played is filled with hats, flowers and personal messages.
Lazar’s death also sparked an outpouring of national support on social media and in Little Leagues and big leagues.
The New York Mets symbolically honored #BatsOutForLazar.
“It gives life a deep meaning. Obviously we are completely crushed with this unexpected passing of Lazar,” Lazar’s father said.
“It will be far reaching and we will make sure that everybody receives toys in Lazar’s name,” said Johanna Sofield, with Long Beach Christmas Angel.
“Bringing a little healing to the process and hopefully getting some smiles on some kids’ faces,” Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Lazar’s brothers, Gerry and Blaze, were a part of the tribute.
“Recognized for team spirit and passion for baseball and love of his family and his friends. Rest peacefully in paradise, slugger,” Kilbride said.