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Dominic Melendez was honored at the NYPD Blue Chips Ceremony on December 13.

Photo by Dean Moses

A shard of the old blue block.

On Monday evening, the annual Blue Chips Awards ceremony was held at Police Headquarters, honoring many neighborhoods and young people, including an inspiring teenager.

The NYPD Blue Chips is a mentoring program run by the Patrol Services Bureau and designed to strengthen bonds between youth and community service agents through football teams coached by department members on and off ground. While the evening commemorated the dedication of all the young people on their respective teams, one teenager was particularly recognized.

Dominic Melendez struggled throughout his youth with a severe case of glaucoma. The young life of the youngster from Mott Haven was not easy, especially when he was told he could not play sports for his school due to illness and his inability to endure possible trauma. However, he found a way to play thanks to NYPD Blue Chips.

Several young people were honored during the Blue Chips ceremony. Photo by Dean Moses

“But we have flag football,” said patrol leader Juanita Holmes. A doctor gave him permission to play flag football. He occupies a key position. He’s the quarterback and he took his team to the championship.

Holmes watched Melendez proudly as he clung to his newly awarded trophy. Despite seriously impaired vision in his right eye, he, thanks to this impairment, helped his team to victory in the City Championship.

“It was amazing to be able to show my talents and to receive an award for it. It’s like a dream come true. My coach told me about an opportunity for me to serve to show my talents again and I took it, ”said Melendez.

Patrol Leader Juanita Holmes was beaming with pride when Dominic Melendez received a trophy.Photo by Dean Moses

Melendez’s parents were thrilled to see their son make his dream come true. Hugging the young man, his father beamed, “I’m so happy that, you know, he was able to pursue his dream of playing football, overcoming obstacles.”

Several other awards were given to Blue Chips teams who made a difference in their communities, including volunteer work.