Dennis Twp. naming hockey rink for player, 15, who died

Michael Fisher was diagnosed with a heart defect at age 4. He was 15 when he collapsed during hockey practice and died.

The Dennis Township committee has approved the renaming of the Recreation Department's hockey rink in memory of Michael Fisher, a 15-year-old Dennis Township resident who died while playing hockey at the rink in 2010.

Fisher was born with an enlarged membrane in the subaortic region of his heart and was diagnosed with the defect at age 4. He collapsed during a hockey practice and died soon after. The rink will be renamed The Michael Fisher Memorial Hockey Rink, with a dedication ceremony to be planned once the name plaque is complete.

Dennis Township Deputy Mayor Brian Teefy said he fully supports the Township's decision to rename the rink in memory of Fisher.

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"Michael absolutely loved hockey, and as a township, I think it's something that we should do to honor the boy and his family," Teefy said. "Every time someone sees the sign or mentions the rink, they'll now think of Michael Fisher."

Fisher's mother, Justina Nees, said she and her husband, Daniel, have felt strongly that the rink should have been renamed in memory of their son right after he passed away. They recently approached the township asking for its renaming to be considered, which led to the approval vote by the committee. Nees said the family is happy to see their wish become reality.

"Renaming the hockey rink after Michael is big," Nees said. "For years to come, Michael's legacy will live on through the rink as a child who died too soon. Michael's passion was hockey."

Nees said there has been talk about the township retiring Fisher's hockey number, which was 6. It was brought up during the last committee meeting and will be brought up again at the next meeting, said Teefy, who said he agrees it should happen.

"Anything they do is an honor for us," Nees said. "We'd rather have Michael, but this is what we have, so anything to keep his memory alive means a lot."

This year has been especially hard on Fisher's family. He would be graduating from high school in the spring. He was a sophomore at Cape May Tech when he died, enrolled in its Allied Medical program with an aspiration to go into the medical field.

The Neeses created the Michael Fisher Memorial Foundation in their son's memory. The Foundation raises scholarship funds for Cape May Tech seniors enrolled in its Allied Medical program to be used for college. Two seniors will be honored with a scholarship from the Michael Fisher Memorial Foundation this spring.

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