Once a hero, always a hero.
A Queens man who made headlines in 2013 when he jumped onto subway tracks to rescue an elderly man has started a nonprofit dedicated to helping children in his native Honduras.
“My life has changed for the good since the train incident,” said Ramiro Ocasio, 35, of Astoria. “I had no idea.”
The quick-thinking strap-hanger made the daring dive on Jan. 18 after an elderly man tumbled onto the subway bed at the busy Lexington Ave./59th St. station in Manhattan.
Ocasio lifted the man up and tossed him back onto the platform. But he found himself stuck on the tracks, unable to hoist himself up.
“Honestly, I’m like the biggest chicken ever, never been in a fight,” he said.
Luckily, a crowd of commuters helped pull him out of harm’s way — seconds before the train roared into the station.
The split-second save changed everything, said Ocasio, who created The Foundation for Education in Honduras to help students in his home country.
The nonprofit was finally certified as a nonprofit by the IRS in September after Ocasio received legal help from Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm where he works as a records assistant.
The do-gooder says the idea was formed on the yearly trips he’s been taking to Honduras since he moved to Queens when he was 19.
In 2008, he decided to start raising money for the Central American country — the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti — to help buy food for hungry people, or supplies and construction materials for local schools.
He raised a couple thousand dollars each year, mostly out of his own pocket and donations from friends, he said.
But the biggest boost came after the life-saving heroics.
“Next thing I know a lot of people see the news out there, and money starts pouring in left and right,” Ocasio said.
He received about $9,000, which he said he used to refurbish a school in Honduras.
With some pro-bono help from attorneys at work, he was able to finally register his foundation as a 501c3 last year.
Since then, Ocasio has raised more than $20,000, which he plans to put towards building a whole new campus for Santiago Morales Elementary, a school in his hometown El Progreso that has only two classrooms for 97 students.
The project, which starts in March, will add four classrooms and a playground to the school, along with backpacks, school supplies and soccer jerseys for its students.
“It’s amazing, it’s like a movie,” Ocasio said. “I never thought in a million years it would end up like this.” By: firstname.lastname@example.org