(Rochester, N.Y)- Officer Anthony DiPonzio along with the Rochester Police Department joined the Rochester Red Wings on the field Saturday afternoon, just over two months after he was shot in the head while on duty.
His fellow officers stood guard on the field as DiPonzio made his way to the mound one step at a time.
Officer DiPonzio stood on the pitcher's mound at Frontier Field to throw the opening pitch at the Wings' first home game of the season to a tremendous ovation from the crowd.
“It just felt great,” DiPonzio said. “All the support has been wonderful. It’s been helping me along, pushing me through this recovery process... I’m so touched. It helps me every day to get better”
“I’ve been coming here since the 60s, and this is probably the best ceremony I’ve seen so far ever,” said Red Wings fan Jeff Barnhart.
After the pitch, DiPonzio told reporters he spent a lot of time practicing with his physical therapist and his father
For his family and fellow police officers, it’s been an emotional ride. “I was just so amazed, just looking at the stands seeing all these people here to support him. It was nice,” said Joanne DiPonzio, Anthony’s mother.
“The courage and the strength he’s exhibited is a testament for everybody,” said George Markert, Executive Deputy Chief of the Rochester Police Department.
DiPonzio was spending about three hours a day in physical therapy. DiPonzio says he’s trying as hard as he can because he’s just trying to get back to work.
“I knew he had it in him. He’s got the fight in him. He has the will. God’s been good to us,” Joanne DiPonzio said.