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Best friend: DiDonato in good spirits after another round of surgery

Thursday, 21st January 2010

Categories Boy's/Men's, Features  

By Chris Goldberg, Posted 1/21/10

Former Villanova men’s lacrosse captain Eddie DiDonato continues to recover from six gunshot wounds sustained during an altercation Sunday morning in Philadelphia and remains in fair condition at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, a hospital spokesperson said this afternoon.

DiDonato, 23, of Blue Bell, had several hours of surgery today, according to his best friend and former La Salle College High teammate, Rob Forster, who has been spending much of his days with DiDonato and his family since the shootings.

Forster said DiDonato remains in great spirits and that doctors are confident he will make a full recovery despite taking bullets to his abdomen, shoulders and hand. Forster said five of the bullets remain lodged in DiDonato’s body and that additional surgery is planned for early next week.

The alleged shooter, Gerald Ung, 28, a law student at Temple University, has been charged with attempted murder and related offenses. Ung is out on 10 percent of $200,000 bail.

DiDonato was shot at point-blank range during an altercation at 2:45 a.m. in the 300 block of Market Street

in front of the Fox 29 TV studio. Police continue to investigate the incident, which was taped by Fox surveillance cameras and has been seen continuously on the Internet. Still, few details on what led to the shootings are known.
DiDonato is the nephew of city Republican leader Michael Meehan

Forster said support for DiDonato, who graduated from Villanova in May after starting for four years on a team that last season went to the NCAA Division I playoffs for the first time ever, has been overwhelming.

Forster said he is getting dozens of text messages each hour from friends wanting to know about DiDonato’s recovery. He decided to create a Facebook Fan page called “Support Eddie DiDonato on his road to recovery” and it has attracted 1,593 fans in little more than one day. Many of the fans are writing messages of encouragement to DiDonato on the page’s Wall. A day earlier, the “Gerald Ung is innocent” Facebook page was created; it has 281 fans.

“The support has been unreal,” said Forster, a recent graduate of Penn State where he was a lacrosse standout. “His sister Katie read all the notes from Facebook to Eddie. If people could visit, there would be lines of people out the door all day long.”

Forster said DiDonato is very responsive and happy to communicate with friends and family.

“He can’t drink water and he has to talk slowly because he has a dry mouth,” said Forster. “But yesterday he was talking to me and Brian Neary (a La Salle grad who played lacrosse at Drexel) and Tony Resch (La Salle assistant coach) and he said he was going to take us all on a vacation when he gets out. I just want him to pay my phone bill!

“Also, this fall he played on GMH (men’s lacrosse club team) and he said he’d be back for the spring (games) by mid-season.”

DiDonato was an All-American (defenseman) for La Salle in 2005 that helped the Explorers win the 2004 state championship. He was a four-year starter at Villanova, and led the Wildcats to the Colonial Athletic Association championship last year and into the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time in school history, earning Second Team All-CAA honors.

DiDonato, who graduated from Villanova with a degree in Criminal Justice, had just begun a full-time job last Monday for Nationwide in Plymouth Meeting.

DiDonato helped lead La Salle to the Keystone Cup championship as a junior when the Explorers went 28-2 and whipped Shady Side Academy, 13-5, for the state crown. As a senior he led La Salle to the finals of the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Athletic Association tournament where his Explorers (29-3) fell to Haverford School. DiDonato was a two-time all-EPSLA (All-State) pick and played club lacrosse for the Duke’s Lacrosse Club.

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