Zach was a 2010 graduate of Quaker Valley High School, where he was a stand out Offensive and Defensive lineman, but more importantly, a stand out member of our community. During his Senior year playing football at Quaker Valley, he suffered an ankle injury which later caused a blood clot to develop in his leg in March of 2010. He was set to play for Robert Morris University beginning that summer, but this untimely injury led to him being forced to miss his Freshman season. He returned again his Sophomore year preparing to play spring football, but developed yet another blood clot after sustaining another leg injury during practice in training camp. After the second round of blood clots, doctors urged him to leave the game he loved, which was one of the hardest decisions he ever had to make.
After some soul searching, Zachary decided to enroll at the Allegheny County Police Academy. He wanted to do something “hands on” in the community where he could help make a positive difference in peoples’ lives. While in high school, Zach spent his summers working with the Leetsdale Parks Program where he served as a camp counselor. He worked with many children in our community and seemed to gravitate toward working with some of the children who needed additional help to make their time spent at camp more enjoyable. After graduating from the Academy, he signed on with the Leet Township and Leetsdale Police Departments. He then spent the next few months training with his fellow officers to prepare himself for a career protecting his fellow citizens. In June of 2013, after working a double shift between the two departments, followed by a short nights rest, the following day he became ill. Symptoms developed and worsened as the day went on, but he simply chalked it up to fatigue. The following morning he was gone. On June 23rd, 2013, Zach passed away at the age of 20 years old due to a Pulmonary Embolism.
The Zachary John O’Neill Memorial Foundation has been established in memory of my late brother Zachary to preserve the spirit of his life by providing opportunities and support to young men and women who embody Zachary's moral commitment to self, others, and the surrounding community with the goal of making the world a better place for everyone. While his life may have been cut short, the positive impact of his life will continue to be felt through the work and dedication of the foundation in his memory.
The loss of Zachary has been devastating to our family and friends; there is simply no doubt about it. However, the foundation is a positive, driving force with which his life can continue to have a positive effect and influence in our communities. With your help and support, the positive impact of his life will continue on for years through our work we've set out to do.
Nicholas R. O’Neill