Flag football benefit held for Colonie burn victim

August 13, 2017 10:00 PM

SCHENECTADY – A flag football tournament at Schenectady High School brought hundreds of people together on Sunday to support the family of Niko DiNovo.

“I'm overwhelmed,” said Alicia DiNovo, Niko’s mother. “I just want to thank everybody. This is just amazing.”

The event was the first time she and Niko's brother Michael got a chance to be together in the Capital Region in the past nine months. They've been by Niko's side at the Westchester Medical Center Burn Unit watching the progress in his recovery.

Niko was 16 years old back in October when the car he was riding in smashed into Blessings Tavern in Colonie and burst into flames. He was left with severe burns over 95 percent of his body. He's been at the Westchester Medical Center Burn Unit ever since.

"When he's awake, he's kind of in shock," said Alicia DiNovo. "We try to tell him and he's always shaking his head 'no' in disbelief."

"At the end of September, hopefully they're going to get him over to Shriners for rehab," said Michael DiNovo.

The family says it's been rough. They get their strength from their faith and Niko, who they say brought the family closer and a community together. The flag football tournament is a testament to that.

Frank Rogers, who organized the event, credits his assistant coach and all the volunteers.

"This was looking smaller until a couple of days before this tournament, and it blew up thanks the media as well," Rogers said.

The money raised will be used for Niko's medical bills and other assistance he might need in the future.

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WNYT Staff

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