Remembering Chris


The 23rd annual Christopher Gardner Memorial Day honored a teacher and coach gone too soon.

Eastfallslocal.Chris Gardner.RETOUCHED w Text frame

Teacher, gifted athlete, coach, great community guy – everywhere you turned at Cranky Joe’s on April 2nd, you heard something good about Christopher Gardner. Or the good that’s still being done in his name.

For 23 years, Cranky Joe’s has hosted the Christopher Gardner Memorial Day to honor the memory of a Fallser who gave so much back to the community.

Eastfallslocal.Mike Lally.RETOUCHED

Mike Lally, the organizer of the event from its beginning, talked about the Christopher he knew – a patient man who taught softball to kids at McDevitt and inspired them to excel on the field and in the classroom.

That memory inspired Mike to create a memorial basketball game after Chris was killed in 1994 by a drunk driver in Somers Point, New Jersey. Mike also created the Christopher Gardner Leadership Award (which goes to the outstanding player in the game) to motivate kids the way Chris had done.

Eastfallslocal.Gardner Memorial Basketball Team.RETOUCHED w TEXTPhoto credit: Jen Lally

For years, we awarded it to an 8th grade boy and girl, but then St. Bridget’s school closed. We wanted to keep the game, and the tradition, going so we changed the name to the St. Bridget’s Alumni game.

Eastfallslocal.Gardner Memorial Basketball Game.RETOUCHED w TEXTPhoto credit: Jen Lally

The plaque, which bears the names of the award winners, hangs on the wall at McDevitt, a place where Chris spent so much of his time.

Mike, a long-time coach at St. Joe’s Prep School, knows plenty about teaching and giving back to the community. “It’s why the Memorial Day is such a positive event,” he said. “We raise money for the East Falls Sports Association which is great for the kids, but it’s also about getting together to remember Chris and catch up with old friends from the neighborhood.”

Eastfallslocal.Gardner Memorial.Family at Crank's.RETOUCHED w TEXT

Remembering old friends and helping out the kids — just the kind of community spirit Chris lived for.

Editor’s note: Today would’ve been Chris’ 57th birthday.

You Can Make a Difference
The East Falls Sports Association is always looking for volunteers as coaches and to help with events. More info here.

1 Comment

  1. Humbling on so many levels. God Bless my Gardner family. Aunt Maryann, Stitch, Matt, Kelly, Tony, & Andy, special prayers for a very special family…….

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