Honoring a Fallen Hero’s FamilyIn January of 2018, a group of local wedding vendors in Tampa Bay came together to give Holly Kondek an almost entirely free wedding ceremony. They had all heard of her father, Officer Charlie Kondek, and wanted to honor his memory and celebrate his service to the city of Tarpon Springs. Several members of the Tarpon Police Department were in attendance to see Holly married, each wishing her luck and sharing their own memories of working with her father.
When asked about the ceremony, Sgt. Scott Osarzuk of the Tarpon Springs Police said, "Charlie is part of our family, as Theresa (Chalie’s wife) and the rest of their family. And when we say 'gone, but not forgotten, we mean it."
It has been over four years since Holly’s father was killed in the line of duty. Even though he could not see his daughter married, his family, his fellow officers and even the city of Tarpon Springs made sure that his presence was felt by everyone at the ceremony.
Charlie’s StoryOfficer Charlie Kondek always worked the midnight shift so that his children never had to stay with a babysitter. A little after 2 a.m. on December 21, 2014, a noise complaint came in from Glen's Eureka apartment complex. An unknown man was pounding on random doors looking for someone. Kondek drove out to the apartment complex to see what was going on. Minutes after his arrival, Officer Kondek was shot and killed by Marco Antonio Parilla Jr. with a stolen .40-caliber Glock.
Parilla was in violation of his parole and was looking for an old roommate he believed ratted him out to the police. He fled the scene and crashed into a utility pole and a parked car. He was quickly found and arrested by the Tarpon Police. He pled guilty to first-degree murder, and in March of 2018, was sentenced to life in prison.
The coins pictured above were created by the Tarpon Springs Police Department to honor the memory of their fallen brother, Charlie Kondek. It’s customary for police officers to wrap their badges in a black band when mourning the loss of a fellow officer. They asked that a blue band featuring Charlie’s badge number be wrapped around the center of the Tarpon Springs Police badge on the front of the coin.
All challenge coins are made to tell a story, and these are no different. While they serve as a reminder of Charlie’s death, they are not meant to symbolize the end of his story. On the contrary, they are a continuation of his story. Each coin is a reminder of his life, and each person that carries a coin has different experiences to remember him by. They are proof that he lives on in the hearts of his fellow officers and in his family.
Remembrance CoinsWe are humbled and honored when our products are shared in memory of lost loved ones and used to help a person’s story live on. Coins like these are a reminder of how fragile life is and how quickly everything can change. It is a privilege to help families and friends keep their loved ones alive through shared memories, and we hope that our coins can help people understand the significance of their lives.
There are a few different ways of making remembrance coins. Names, dates and personal messages from family or close friends are commonly included. Our team can also add references to a person’s hobbies or interests as well as actual photographs through offset printing. These coins even add small cutouts at the top and bottom of each coin. The one on top is for adding a string or chain so the coin can be worn around the neck and the cutout at the bottom is shaped like flower petals because an actual flower was put through the hole before each coin was presented.
The most important thing to consider is that remembrance coins are created to celebrate life. We help our customers find anything that they believe will help memorialize a person and honor their memory. Sometimes these coins are used to raise money for the family or to raise awareness for the loss of police, veterans or other members of the community. But the one thing they all have in common is the importance of never forgetting a fallen loved one.
Celebrating Life Through Shared MemoriesOfficer Kondek is survived by his wife Theresa and their five children. Now four years later, his wife says, “I’m still learning how to balance my old life that I miss and the new life that I still don’t like sometimes.” The shock and grief that came after losing her husband is felt every day. “I didn’t know when it was okay to talk about Charlie, or when I brought him up too much.”
This is an understandable fear, but not one that many of us truly understand until we lose someone dear to us. We all want to make sure that the important people in our lives are never forgotten. Coins like these encourage others to share their own personal memories, helping to tell a person’s story from new perspectives. Just as Holly Kondek was able to feel her father’s presence at her wedding, we hope that our coins give family and friends a chance to feel a person’s presence long after they are gone.