More than 600 people crowded the Richards Building at the Sussex County Fairgrounds on this weekend to honor Dan Finkle, a Newton police officer and firefighter, at a benefit fundraiser as he recovers from colon cancer.
The “Fighting For Finkle” beefsteak fundraiser was a collaboration between Sussex County PBA 138 and the Newton Fire Department. Proceeds will help offset expenses for Finkle’s family — which includes his wife, Danielle, and young daughter Harper — as a result of his battle with colon cancer.
Finkle, 35, was first diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer in 2017; and has also undergone chemotherapy and radiation. He has received what he called “the best care” from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
The festive evening included an outpouring from local businesses and sponsors of raffle prizes spanning two long tables, some with up to a $1,000 retail value. A wheelbarrow overflowing with bottles of wine, champagne and other spirits named the “Barrel of Cheer” was one. There was a “His and Her” basket with salon and Nautilus certificates. The “Man Cave” package included a large television and Yankees memorabilia.
“What’s really impressed me is how people have shown support to me and my family,” Finkle said. “It’s community up here and not just a place to live.”
Lt. George Gunderman of the Hamburg Police Department, also a firefighter with the Franklin Fire Department, said he could relate to Finkle’s dual roles with police and fire. He described Finkle as a “great family man” and that one “couldn’t find a better guy.”
Assemblyman Parker Space and his wife, Jill, sat at Gunderman’s table. Space said he was there in his capacity as a firefighter with the Wantage Fire Department. Other dignitaries were in attendance, some of whom had not met Finkle until that evening. Assemblyman Hal Wirths and state Sen. Steve Oroho were part of the event, as were Sussex County Sheriff Michael Strada, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, Sussex County Surrogate Gary Chiusano and Sussex County Clerk Jeff Parrott.
“To see a community come together to help a fellow community member and colleague, it’s great, and to see people reaching out,” Oroho said.
“He’s doing good. He’s stronger every day,” said Finkle’s wife, Danielle. “There’s lots of positives.”
Finkle said, “I was considered very young for colon cancer and I’m on the ‘young’ spectrum,” he said. “But now it’s been striking those in their 20s and 30s with more frequency.” He hopes to return to full duty soon and is grateful to Newton Police Chief Michael Richards and Newton Town Manager Thomas S. Russo Jr. for accommodating him as he recovered.
In the program distributed to attendees at the event, the Fighting for Finkle Committee reported: “After surgeries and treatments, we are happy to report that Dan’s prognosis for a full recovery is excellent.”