Local fundraising gala for Wounded Warriors

Photo by Alexander Belisle

The Wounded Warriors Project has become one of the largest national organizations helping wounded soldiers as they return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now a newly formed local organization, Hearts of Honor, is also seeking to help.

It held a benefit dinner-dance for the WWP at Marina del Rey in Throggs Neck on Thursday, Nov. 21.

Tashel Speirs, whose parents run Pelham Bay Home Center in Pelham Bay, founded Hearts of Honor, being incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit to hold fundraisers.

The group’s first effort at a fund-raising dinner-dance was modeled on dinner-dances held by the Pelham Bay Merchants Association, she said.

“When I was younger, my parents used to be very active in the Pelham Bay Merchants Association and my mother, Sherry Scanlon, was president of the association, and every year we would have a dinner-dance and the proceeds would go to the area or whatever needed to be done for a good cause,” she said. “I ran this event with the hope that I would get people from our community to chip in and be there for one another.”

Generous support in organizing the event was provided by Valerie Carrington and Dawn Negle, said Speirs.

The Wounded Warriors Project, whose mission is to foster the more successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history, was chosen as the benefactor because it is a reputable organization and because of the organizers fondness for veterans, she said.

Photo by Alex Belisle

“We chose them because they help a wide variety of veterans,” she said.

Speirs said that she has a friend who returned from overseas service over ten years ago, and wound up finding the event as something of a second-homecoming.

“After he attended the event, he said he felt truly at home for the first time in ten years,” she said.

Purchasing tables for the veterans were Tower Realty/Hutch Properties and Angelina’s Ristorante in Tuckahoe, N.Y. Helping turn out veterans for the event were Kevin Graham and Anthony Abbate.

The event was a “gala” style event, drawing 150 attendees, she said, adding that Pure Entertainment provided free dee-jaying.

While the total tally of the proceeds were not back as of press time from the evening’s Silent Auction, when the funds are all collected they will be immediately sent to the Wounded Warriors Project.

In addition to all of the funds raised, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj pledged $2,000 and $1,000 respectively, she said.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393
By Alex Belisle

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