On Wednesday, September 11, 2019, Pat and Dominic Grillo and the Atrion team had the privilege of hosting the 5th Annual Swing for a Cause Charity Golf Outing at Beaver Brook Country Club (BBCC) in Clinton, NJ.
The event was a huge success. We raised some $26,000 for charities supporting our troops (past and present) and first responders. Without the sacrifices made by these heroes, none of this would be possible.
Having the event on 9/11 made it extra special for everyone.
This year Atrion combined its 29th Annual Customer Appreciation Outing with Swing for a Cause. The amazing response we received from our vendors as sponsors and our great customers simply blew us away. Quite a few of our customers made personal donations, with one donating $500.
The day started with Father Jay Toborowski of Immaculate Conception Parish in Annandale delivering a powerful and moving invocation prayer for all those who sacrificed so much on September 11, 2001. Father Jay talked about the first responders that ran into the burning Twin Towers to rescue those trapped, even though many knew there was a good chance they might be making the ultimate sacrifice. He also prayed for those that perished at the Pentagon and on Flight 93 in a field in Pennsylvania.
Following the invocation, an Honor Guard from the Union County Sheriff’s Office presented the colors while Caitlin Dwyer, a rising New York City recording artist, delivered a beautiful acapella rendition of The National Anthem. Caitlin drove in from New York City and donated her time. Leyna Stagg (12), Charlee McGatha (11), and Alanna Marcelliano (8) of Warren County’s Warm Hearts Warm Lives 4-H club led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The opening to the day was deeply moving.
Immediately after the pledge, 120 players mounted their carts and teed off in a scramble format.
The competition was heated. From what I was told, there were a few wrestling matches on the course. Out of concern, I asked if anyone called the police. I was then told the police were the ones wrestling. While on the course, players received a very special surprise when they reached the 7th tee. NHL and New Jersey Devils Hall of Fame Defenseman, three-time Stanley Cup Champion and current Devils’ announcer Ken Daneyko, along with New York Yankees’ bullpen ace, two-time World Series Champion, first relief pitcher to win a Cy Young Award, and current General Manager of the Somerset Patriots, Sparky Lyle, was there to greet them. Ken and Sparky hit tee shots, took pictures with the players, and handed out autographed pucks and baseballs.
Fittingly for 9/11, the winning score on the day was 11 under par.
Players, helpers, and guests attended a reception and awards ceremony following golf. There was a silent sports memorabilia auction consisting of autographed items of players from local professional teams. Saquon Barkley, Jacob DeGrom, and Derek Jeter items were popular.
Leyna, Charlee, Alanna, Angela Grillo, and Kelsey Burgey continued to sell tickets for the Tricky Tray and 50/50 Raffles during dinner. The bar was opened, and a delicious buffet dinner was served.
Immediately following dinner came the highlight of the evening. We were lucky to hear from a few of our heroes. Each spoke about a specific event they were involved in during their time in service to the United States of America.
First up was Karen Mealey, daughter of Pearl Harbor survivor and career Navy man, 96-year-old John J. Hansen.
Karen spoke eloquently about her dad and what a great man and father he is. It was an extremely moving tribute and straight from the heart.
She told us John was born in Denmark in February 1923 and came to New Jersey when he was 6 years old. He joined the U.S. Navy on December 29, 1939, at the age of 16.
In the summer of 1940, John was assigned to the USS Argonne, which sailed for Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, the USS Argonne was on the 1010 inboard dock across from battleship row.
John was a witness and part of the day that “will live in infamy.”
After Pearl Harbor, John remained in the Navy until he was honorably discharged in 1949. Following his daughter, John Hansen told us about his experiences the morning of the Japanese attack. It turns out John was on the dock when he and his shipmates looked up and saw the Japanese planes approaching. At first, they thought they were American aircraft, but then they noticed the big zero on the side. The Japanese “Zeros” started dropping their bombs on the U.S. ships and then began strafing them. John was lucky to be behind a large crane and not struck. As the attack came to an end, he and his mates tried to rescue our men that were in the harbor. Most were either dead or dying and their clothes were burned off. This made it almost impossible to identify them since there were no dog tags back then and the only identification was on their clothes.
Needless to say, hearing about that day from a man who was thick in the middle of it mesmerized us all.
The next hero to speak was 93-year-old Marine WWII veteran Robert (Bob) McCoy who briefly discussed his time island hopping and fighting in the Pacific theater. Bob played in the outing and still works as an ambassador at Beaver Brook Country Club. (Golf does keep you young!)
Next came Edward Moss (“Mossie”), a Korean War Veteran who was part of one of the United States Marine Corp’s most famous campaigns, the Chosin Reservoir. It was known as “Frozen Chosin,” among the troops. Temperatures of minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit were common throughout the fight.
The battle began when our Marines were encircled by more than 120,000 Chinese Army regulars. Though vastly outnumbered, the Marines were able to break out in what one general called “advancing in reverse,” The battle lasted from November 27 to December 11, 1950, and covered more than 70 miles.
During the fighting, the Marines were able to rescue tens of thousands of South Korean men, women, and children who were being held as work slaves by the North Koreans and Chinese.
The Corps lost over 6,000 Marines, while Mossie and the other survivors became known as what the Marine Corps calls “The Chosin Few!” Fast forward to a few years ago. Mossie was working as the starter at Beaver Brook Country Club and his car had a decal that said “Chosin Marine.” A woman coming to play golf saw the bumper sticker and went looking for the “Chosin Marine.” She asked Mossie if he knew whose car had the “Chosin Marine” sticker on it and Mossie replied, “That’s mine.”
She then told him how he saved her life. It turns out that, as a 4-year old, she was one of the people the Marines rescued at Chosin Reservoir. They hugged and cried. Many of us in the room had tears in our eyes as he retold the story. By the way, Ed is 88 years young and still golfing and working as a starter at Beaver Brook.
Christopher McGee, an Army veteran who served in Kosovo and Iraq, talked about his charity, NY Run for the Fallen, where along with a team of dedicated runners, he carries an American flag and other team members carry Honor and Sacrifice and Honor and Remember flags the entirety of their 3-day journey from Syracuse to Albany.
At prearranged spots, they stop and meet with Gold Star families. They hug and listen to the families talk about their loved one who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Many of those families are presented with an Honor and Remember flag personalized with their loved one’s name. Chris told us “a person dies two deaths…the first is a physical death and the second is when their name has been said aloud for the last time and they have been forgotten.” The goal of the New York Run for the Fallen is to make sure that those heroes never die their second death.
Following our heroes’ talks and some lively back and forth between them, especially from our oldest heroes, members of the charities gave short overviews of their organizations and how they will use the funds we raised.
We finished the evening with the golf awards, silent auction, tricky tray, and 50/50 raffle drawings.
We had roughly 150 people attend the event. Approximately thirty percent of the people that played in the golf outing served in either the military or law enforcement. Some served in both and are still active. There were military veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, Grenada, El Salvador, both Gulf Wars, and Afghanistan.
It was amazing!
The charities that will receive donations include:
Union County Sheriff’s Officer Ashley Kreig
Tour de Force NY 9/11 Memorial Bike Ride (www.tourdeforceny.com)
Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (www.mcsf.org)