Joseph Acocella Jr., one of Harrison's bravest and most inspirational people, died today just weeks after his 30th birthday.
Details surrounding his death were not immediately available, but Acocella had battled Lumbar Sacral Agenesis—a spinal condition—since birth. He also battled kidney and heart problems throughout his life.
Despite those overwhelming obstacles, Acocella dedicated his life to public service. He had served as Harrison's town clerk since 2007, the last of several political ventures during his life. He had announced his intent to run for re-election earlier this summer.
Always an inspiration to those who knew him, Acocella had both of his legs removed at the age of three and was confined to a wheelchair for most of his life. However, he never let the condition slow him down.
Acocella attended Harrison schools, where he became involved in student government. Despite losing his mother to a heart condition when he was 11 and continuing health issues, Acocella was elected student body president during all four years of high school.
Acocella went on to Fordham University and was chosen to take part in a program studying U.S. government in Washington, DC. and was eventually chosen to serve as the school's ambassador.
Returning to Harrison following graduation in 2004, Acocella took a position with the records division of the Harrison Police Department. In 2005 Acocella was elected as the youngest member of the Harrison Board of Education. Two years later he was elected to his current position, becoming the youngest town clerk in the State of New York at the time.
He was in and out of the office over the last two years while battling ongoing health issues. He was present at the last few town board meetings, proposing a change in policy to the new town dog park less than a month ago.
We will have more details as information becomes available.