David Boccia

Sales and Marketing Executive

Dave has been a “people person” from the start. Growing up on Long Island, New York his love of sports, teamwork and community service led him to St. John University, a degree in Criminal Justice, and a 4-year “tour” on the school’s golf team.

Today, Dave is Worldwide Sales and Marketing Manager for Dan-Mar Components Inc., a leading global distributor of electronic components and devices for the technology sector (in addition to being one of the region’s top amateur golfers).

“In her diary Anne Frank says that no one has ever become poor by giving. I believe we should all remember that and take it to heart.”

While his college career path may have changed, 25 years later Dave still has a passion for helping others, serving as a director for both the Play for James Foundation and Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation, devoted to oncology and hematology research. He and his wife Christine also bring their sense of compassion and boundless energy to a wide range of local community service initiatives on behalf of children and the disadvantaged.

Bill Castner

William Castner

Business Executive, Amateur Sports Coach, Clinician and Mentor

After more than four decades as an executive for a global manufacturing and distribution leader serving the aluminum industry, Bill “enjoyed” a brief retirement before launching a new career in public service. He is now a business manager for Atlantic City, New Jersey, whose responsibilities focus on the Atlantic City Expressway and the city’s International Airport.

What has never changed is his total commitment to the youth of the Toms River, New Jersey community where he and his incredibly supportive wife, Diane, have made their home for more than 40 years. Bill’s dedication to youngsters and student-athletes in particular has been and remains extraordinary. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the past international champion Toms River East Little League; founder of the nationally recognized Black Sox Baseball Club; member of the Governing Board of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League and Youth Sports Safety Advisory Board; recipient of the Hurricane Sandy Hero Award; a coach; mentor; and speaker at countless youth sports conferences and clinics in the U.S. and abroad.

“My passion is my family and my extended family… amateur student athletes. The Play for James Foundation embodies that same passion just as its mission and goals mirror mine.”

As someone who knew James, coached and advised him, and witnessed his compassion, leadership, friendship and empathy for people, without regard for color, creed, ethnicity or social circumstances, Bill says that it is “humbling, an honor, an a privilege” to serve the Foundation that bears his name. To which we can only say that the feeling is mutual.


Dr. Alan Furst, MD

Physician, Equine Owner, Breeder and Advocate

Born, raised and educated in New Jersey (except for two years as a Duke Blue Devil), Alan has practiced Family Medicine in a variety of settings, with a concentration on Urgent Care.  In fact, he founded IMCC, the first urgent care center in the Garden State in 1982, so that he might practice medicine in its most varied, unpredictable, unstructured form.

“I believe it’s possible to change the world if you really care enough.”

A decade or so later Alan briefly retired to pursue a second career in thoroughbred horse breeding but as he’ll tell you, quickly “recovered his senses” and returned to his original profession.  However, he did continue to indulge his love of horses through his ownership of thoroughbred racers, including the much anticipated, as yet unraced 3-year-old colt, Run for James, and his long-term involvement with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Alan’s passion, dedication and lifetime commitment to helping others is sure to have a major impact on the success of the Foundation and all those we serve.

Michael Harrison, esq.

Michael Harrison, Esq.

Attorney, Sportsman, Children’s Advocate

A graduate of the University of Rochester and Brandies School of Law at the University of Louisville, Michael has been a practicing attorney for nearly four decades and is now the senior partner at his firm, focusing on the healthcare arena. During that time he’s generously applied his legal talents and boundless energies to a host of non-profit and charitable causes.

Having long been involved in the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries, he is a past president of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association of New Jersey and Board Member and legal counsel for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, the nation’s leading equine rescue charity. Following in the Louisville tradition of basketball excellence, Michael has also volunteered his time coaching and teaching “hoops” to local youngsters for over 20 years. His many championship teams have been a source of pride as well as a host of scholarships awards to needy and deserving boys and girls.

“Every day is new. It’s a blank page. We should fill each one with things that matter, but are sometimes forgotten…love, respect, charity.”

A father of two, Michael performs perhaps an even more important role as Vice-Chairman of Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation, the preeminent hospital provider of pediatric rehabilitation services in the United States. Now, in Michael, CSH and the Play for James Foundation get to share this true champion for children and young people facing some of life’s most difficult challenges.

Monique Koehler

Monique S. Koehler, Chairperson

Humanitarian, Activist, Sportswoman, Marketing and Sales Executive

Humanitarian. Animal rights champion. National Eclipse Award winner. Tireless worker for the poor, underprivileged and abused. Advocate for education, health and wellness, particularly among children. There’s no string of titles or honors that do justice to Monique and her work on behalf of those in need.

“When you find yourself in a position to help someone, you should be happy and feel blessed because God’s answering that person’s prayer through you.”

She is the founder, former President and Chairman of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which she grew from a kitchen table concept into the world’s largest equine rescue organization. She is also the founder of various amateur baseball leagues, tournaments and training clinics, including the non-profit Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League (ABCCL). The New York Heart Association, St. Anthony’s Friars Foundation, Camp Quality for Kids with Cancer are just a very few of the many other charitable organizations and causes where her impact has been felt. And now, of course, there’s the Play for James Foundation, which she launched to commemorate and continue the work of her son James.

Always positive, a friend to all those she meets, whose passion for good is boundless and spirit of giving unquenchable, Monique is someone whose heart is not just in the right place, it’s everywhere. You will want to get to know her.

Peter J. Koehler


A native of New Jersey and now a resident of Denver, Colorado, Peter has been an advocate for the less fortunate since he was a teenager, first serving as a student teacher, camp counselor and mentor for underprivileged youngsters in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

His efforts to help children and an appreciation for the charitable work of non-profit organizations intensified while attending the University of Colorado and graduate school at Rice University. It continues stronger than ever today.

“Where there’s altruism there’s light. Where a willingness to help others is lacking, there’s darkness. It’s up to each of us to see that our path is shining bright.”

As a key member of the Play for James Foundation leadership team, Peter’s looking forward to working to improve the health, well-being and quality of life of needy kids and families in our communities, one program, one challenge, and one success at a time.

WP Koehler

W. Peter Koehler

Advertising Executive, Athlete, Coach

A New Jersey transplant, born in Queens and raised on Long Island, New York, Peter’s early career path, which traveled through high school, college and professional baseball, took a major detour in the 1970s. That’s when, after service with the US Army during the Vietnam era, a return to college to complete his degree, and marriage to Monique, he entered the advertising industry.

“Einstein said it: ‘Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.’ …I’m trying.”

Now, having been a part of some of the world’s most well-known advertising firms and run his own agency and marketing consultancies for more than four decades, he’s combining his broad business and athletic experience to help others.

That means working on behalf of charities and community service programs of virtually every size, scope and calling. In particular, Peter has been volunteering, mentoring and applying his coaching, marketing and communications talents to groups focused on kids and young people while fostering the value of sports as a means to both enhance health and learn important life lessons.

Sean Meehan

Professional Actor and Writer

Sean has been an artist virtually all of his adult life, teaching, writing, directing and acting on the stage, screen and television. His career path has taken him to towns and cities all across this country and beyond, exposing him to people of every background, from every circumstance and every walk of life. Along the way he’s come to know and understand their needs, desires, hopes and dreams as well as the things that both divide and draw us together.

“With knowledge comes understanding.  With understanding comes strength and ability to reach out and make a positive difference.”

Sean has known James even longer. And the bond they formed more than two decades ago continues to grow through Sean’s commitment to help the Foundation raise people up, overcome barriers and reach their full potential. There’s no doubt that he’s up to the challenge.

Bob Pavone

Robert Pavone

Operations and Financial Executive, CPA, Youth Baseball Coach

Bob comes by his affinity for service and volunteerism naturally, having been a coach, general manager, director and league commissioner for youth sports teams and organizations for nearly 20 years. His love of sports in general and baseball in particular led him to volunteer his statistical expertise to the Atlantic Baseball Collegiate League, where James coached his son Tyler, an outstanding college athlete.

Accuracy, focus and thoroughness are a few more of Bob’s traits that stem from his long experience in the business world. A corporate leader trained as a CPA, he’s held positions ranging from President, to Senior Vice President, to Chief Financial Officer, to Senior Director of Enterprise Risk and Internal Control for some of the world’s largest and most respected organizations.

“I may be a corporate guy, but my heart is really in coaching and helping youngsters achieve success on and off the field. That’s my everything.”

With his organizational skills, unwavering spirit, positivity, sense of humor and, more important, his sense of caring, being an integral part of the Play for James Foundation and its not-for-profit mission is right in Bob’s wheelhouse.

Diana Pikulski

Diana Pikulski, Esq.

Attorney, Animal Rights Defender, NPO Executive

Diana has worked with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation since 1997 when she became a volunteer for the organization founded by Monique Koehler. Through the years she has served as TRF Legal Counsel, a member of the Board of Directors, and ultimately as Executive Director. Today, the TRF is the largest equine rescue organization in the world, dedicated to saving thoroughbred racehorses from abuse, neglect and possible slaughter by placing them in therapeutic programs for incarcerated men and women, as well in programs providing equine assisted therapy.

She firmly believes that connecting thoroughbreds with men, women and youngsters in need has changed the world, spawning successful treatment programs around the globe and giving second chances to tens of thousands of people and horses who might otherwise have been neglected, abandoned or worse.

“My time as a lawyer, as a public defender and later with Monique at the TRF, cemented my daily dedication to doing good as well as seeing the positive side of every person no matter where they were in life.”

A native of Middletown, New Jersey, Diana received a bachelor’s degree from Drew University and her JD from Vermont Law School. She practiced civil and criminal litigation for 10 years and was President of the Vermont Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.  She also organized the first free legal clinic in Vermont. Diana lives in upstate New York with her husband Bob Duncan, daughter Harper… and seven retired racehorses.

Diana knew James for his entire life. By joining the Board of Play for James Foundation, she like her fellow directors is committed to furthering James’ efforts to help those less fortunate then he find joy, self esteem and success.

Joseph Santigate

Joseph Santigate

Labor Union Executive, Volunteer, Baseball Coach and Official

Joe was born in Brooklyn, New York, graduated from Xaverian High School and earned a degree in Labor Studies from the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor Studies, Empire State College, State University of New York. Today he is Assistant Business Manager of Construction, Local Union 3 of the IBEW.

Having risen through the union ranks from apprentice, to journeyman, to foreman, to shop steward and then assistant superintendent, Joe was appointed Business Representative of Local 3 in 2005 and served in that capacity until advancing to his current position in 2011.

Throughout his business career, he’s been focused on the well being of the working man and woman and their families, especially those in need, spearheading efforts of the Local’s Hardship Committee.

“One person can, in fact, make a difference… a change for the better in people’s lives. It doesn’t take any special skills. It’s a matter of will and heart.”

Joe’s commitment to helping others is more than business, it’s personal, as evidenced by his lifelong involvement with youth sports and volunteerism. For more than 30 years Joe has been a leading supporter, promoter and advocate for amateur baseball and community service organizations such as the Notre Dame Bread for Life Food Drive in his hometown Staten Island. At the Play for James Foundation, you can be sure Joe’s will and heart will be front and center to the benefit of the young people and families whose lives we hope to make measurably better.

Greg Thompson, Esq.

Attorney, Child Welfare Specialist, Professional Athlete Management Representative

Greg is the Ohio State Executive Director for Necco, a non-profit organization helping individuals, troubled children and young adults overcome adversity, build families and provide opportunities to lead healthy, successful lives.

After earning his law degree from the University of Louisville in 2011, Greg returned home to West Virginia to continue his lifelong work with abused and neglected children served by Necco. He also launched Key Player Management Group, a professional sports management agency.

“It’s an honor to be a member of the Koehler family and part of an organization reflecting James’ passion and selfless concern for others.”

It was during law school that Greg met James. In the years that followed, as Greg will tell you, they became best friends and brothers. Greg knew and treasured James’ pure, kind heart and his passion for helping others. It’s this passion that Greg hopes to match each and every day in his work with children and athletes, and now as a part of the Foundation that will carry on James’ work.