Hegwood Law - June 2020



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JUNE 2020

A TRIBUTE TO FATHERS AND FIRST RESPONDERS Featuring Dr. Fred DiOrio’s Incredible Life Story

No parents have it easy, especially during a pandemic. So this month, we would like to make a tribute to our nation’s fathers and first responders during our COVID-19 health crisis by sharing the story of one particularly incredible dad: Dr. Fred DiOrio, a New Jersey dentist and volunteer emergency medical technician. “My family asks me why I have to do it,” says DiOrio. “They say I am not 23 years old even though I think I am. I tell them I do it because I can.” Although his day job as a dental director for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey takes up most of his time, he still volunteers as a first responder. Why choose to be one of the most vulnerable to such a dangerous virus? DiOrio says that he had planned on becoming a firefighter because his father was a firefighter, but after he took his service exam for the position at age 18, his father would not have it. He told DiOrio that he could “do more,” and in response, he found himself in dentistry. However, that did not make DiOrio give up his passion for helping others in dire times of need. After he got his doctor of dental medicine degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, DiOrio was commissioned as a captain in the U.S. Army. He was stationed in North Carolina for three years, then he enlisted in the Army Reserves for 25 years while he worked at his own dental practice back in New Jersey. As a reservist, he served one weekend every month and was deployed once a year (or more). DiOrio says his deployments were life-changing. He set up makeshift clinics in small villages in Honduras and Guatemala. Some people would walk 25 miles just to receive dental and medical care. Eventually, he retired from the Reserves as a lieutenant colonel in 2013. Even then, DiOrio kept looking for ways to help others. He became a certified EMT, joined the Manasquan First Aid Squad, and

closed his private dental practice to become a dental director. Accomp l i shed in his career and a true patriot, DiOrio has not cut himself a break

just yet, and his wife worries about that. “My wife is not a fan of my endeavors because she worries about my safety,” DiOrio admits. “However, she has learned to accept my passion. It is passion, compassion, and drive that make a difference in the lives of people we touch. I feel lucky to be able to make a difference. As my dad would often say, ‘The harder you work, the luckier you become.’” I have to agree with DiOrio’s wisdom. Some of the most important lessons we learn are from the fathers in our lives. While I did not grow up with a father, I did grow up with my grandfather, and I feel lucky every day that he was such a sweet-hearted man. Everybody knew he was incredibly kind and generous. Papa and Nonnie helped all of the kids and grandkids during their lifetimes. This is just who my grandfather was: quiet but generous and a good listener, no matter what. I am definitely a better grandmother because of his lessons and inspiration. Thank you to Fred DiOrio, his family, and all of the other fathers for all of their passion and sacrifice. And thank you, Papa, for being the best grandpa a girl could ask for.

Happy Father’s Day!

-Kim Hegwood



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