NYPD honors inspirational teen at Blue Chips award ceremony

A chip off the old, blue block.

On Monday evening the annual Blue Chips award ceremony was held at police headquarters, honoring a host of precincts and young people, including one inspirational teen.

The NYPD Blue Chips is a mentorship program run by the Patrol Services Bureau designed to strengthen the bond between youth and officers serving the community through football teams that are coached by members of the department both on and off the field. While the night commemorated the dedication of all the young people in their respective teams, one teen was especially acknowledged. 

Dominic Melendez has struggled throughout his youth with a severe case of glaucoma. The Mott Haven youth’s young life hasn’t been an easy one, especially when he was told he couldn’t play sports for his school due to the illness and being unable to receive possible trauma. However, he found a way to play thanks to the NYPD Blue Chips.

Several youth were honored at the Blue Chips ceremony. Photo by Dean Moses

“But we have flag football,” Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes explained. A doctor gave him clearance to play flag football. He’s in a key position. He’s the quarterback and he took his team to the championship.”

Holmes looked upon Melendez with pride as he clung to his newly awarded trophy.  Despite seriously diminished vision in his right eye, he has, through this impairment, helped lead his team to victory in the citywide championship.

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

Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes beamed with pride as Dominic Melendez was awarded a trophy.Photo by Dean Moses

Melendez’s parents were overcome with joy at witnessing their son achieve his dream. Clutching the young man, his father beamed: “I am so happy that, you know, he was able to continue his dream of playing football, overcoming the obstacles.”

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