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Big turnout for benefit at Warrior House in Shelby

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Dave Kuzmierczak, left, and Steve Johnson, members of the Medina’s American Legion and VFW, remove the flag from a coffin during a patriotic ceremony Saturday at the Warrior House.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 September 2018 at 4:30 pm

Ed Spence of Oakfield, left, talks with Floyd Hurlburt of Watertown, during Saturday’s gathering at the Warrior House in support of veterans. An Army veteran, Hurlburt was one of seven veterans who spent the weekend at the Warrior House.

SHELBY – Saturday’s event at the Warrior House in support of veterans was a resounding success, and the second in which ABATE motorcycle club participated.

Ed Spence of Oakfield, former Northeast director of Operation Injured Soldier, and Peter Zeliff Jr. of Middleport organized the day, which began with a motorcycle run from Medina’s VFW, and ended back at the Warrior House, a farmhouse on Salt Works Road donated by Zeliff as a retreat for veterans. There, the more than 230 who registered for the motorcycle run, local veterans and supporters from the community gathered to listen to several bands, enjoy a pig roast and support a huge basket raffle.

To conclude the day, members of the Medina VFW, American Legion, their Honor Guard and the Patriot Guard participated in a patriotic ceremony, which included playing of Taps, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, a 21-gun salute and the proper folding of an American flag which had been draped on a casket.

The casket and flag are part of a float created by the VFW and American Legion for local parades and celebrations.

Todd Wilcox of Medina is a road captain for ABATE, who said the event was very successful.

“Last year, we raised more than $13,000, and this year is going to top that,” he said.

A sea of motorcycles filled the yard of the Warrior House on Salt Works Road, Medina, during Saturday’s Cycle Run/Pig Roast/ Basket Raffle event to honor veterans. The day was part of a weekend of special activities, which began early in the morning with a goose hunt.

Wilcox’s wife Beverly was in charge of the basket raffle. She said support of that was phenomenal, with everyone she asked willing to donate a basket.

Saturday’s celebration was part of a two-day event, which included a goose hunt early each morning.

Artist Carol Culhane of Albion brought the Purple Heart ornaments she designed for wounded veterans.

Artist Carol Culhane and her husband Gerry had a booth set up with the ornaments she originally designed for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

Gerry is a Vietnam veteran, which is one of the reasons Carol has been a longtime supporter of veterans. The couple is hoping to have a hunt at their home in Gaines.

Seven veterans from across New York state were hosted at the Warrior House for the weekend. One was Floyd Hurlburt of Watertown, an Army veteran who was based at Fort Drum.

“I come on these hunts and help where I can,” he said. “I love the concept here.”

Shawn Latour of Schenectady first came to the Warrior House last year for a goose hunt and a deer hunt with bow. He was eager to return again.

“It piqued my interest,” Latour said. “I really had fun.”

He served with the U.S. Army from 1988 to 1991 during Operation Desert Storm and in Germany.

The day was a fruitful one for Donna Bushover of West Shelby, who came with her son Randy, who is news director at WBEN Radio.

Donna was looking to donate her late husband David’s wheelchair, and really wanted a veteran to have it.

She met up with Spence, who told her he knew of a very ill veteran in the area who needed a wheelchair immediately.

Dave Kusmierczak, left, and Steve Johnson, right, stand at attention with other veterans as Jim Freas from Medina VFW places a properly folded American flag on the casket displayed during a ceremony at the Warrior House on Saturday.

While Donna’s husband was not a veteran, her brother Robert Burgess of Attica and brother-in-law Lee Buckland of Attica are Navy veterans and her niece’s husband of Attica is an Air Force veteran.

She was happy to know the wheelchair would stay in Orleans County.

In one final presentation, Dan Anderson, commander of the Medina VFW, presented a check for $1,000 to Spence to help maintain the Warrior House.

Dan Anderson, commanded of the VFW in Medina, presented a check for $1,000 to Ed Spence for the Warrior House at the conclusion of Saturday’s event in support of veterans.

Members of the Patriot Guard joined members of the Medina VFW, American Legion and Honor Guard during a patriotic ceremony at the celebration to honor veterans Saturday at the Warrior House.

The veterans’ Honor Guard from Medina VFW and American Legion fires a salute during a patriotic ceremony at a celebration to honor veterans at the Warrior House.

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