MEDINA – Saturday was a special day at the Warrior House on Salt Works Road.
Not only was it the third annual fundraiser for the veterans’ retreat, it was a day when several local organizations came together to show their support for veterans in the area.
The day began with a special presentation of a check for $1,260 by the Knights of Columbus in Medina. Members Dave Bellucci, Bob Fox, Archie Washak and Mike Krupa presented the check to Pete Zeliff, Jr., the landowner who donated the farmhouse and land on Salt Works Road which is used as a retreat for veterans.
The donation represents the proceeds of the Knights’ golf tournament July 27. Bellucci said they normally raise about $500 at the tournament, but this year because it was going to benefit veterans, golfers who won monetary prizes donated it all back. Five veterans actually golfed in the tournament.
It was the idea of Washak, a Vietnam veteran, to donate their proceeds to the Warrior House.
“The Warrior House is a great cause, he said.
“Funding from groups like this allows us to expand the things we do for veterans,” Zeliff said.
Tops on their list of things to do is to expand programs to include veterans and their families, such as picnics and special gatherings. Catherine Schmidt will head this new endeavor.
The Warrior House was founded in 2015 after Zeliff purchased land on Salt Works Road, but had no use for the farmhouse on the property. He met Ed Spence of Oakfield, who was the Western New York leader of Operation Injured Soldier, and the Warrior House was established.
Saturday’s fundraiser grew out of efforts started by Todd Wilcox of Medina, who organized the first one two years ago. It was going to be a simple dice run for 30 to 40 bikes, but his wife Beverly, who tends bar at the VFW in Medina, suggested they add a basket raffle. This year, basket donations reached nearly 300, in addition to big ticket items, such as five weapons, a hand-crocheted blanket with an American flag and soldiers on it, a fire ring donated by the BOCES Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Program, a picnic table donated by BOCES wood shop and more.
Bev Wilcox coordinated this year’s basket raffle. Other support came from Orleans County veterans’ organizations, including Medina VFW and Auxiliary; Patriot Guard Riders, led by ride captain Joe Joyce of East Pembroke; ABATE; Harley Davidson dealers across the country, who became involved because Medina veteran Jim Freas’ niece works for Harley Davidson; Bad Ash Barbecue, who loaned their food trailer; and M&T Heating in Albion.
Also this year, AMVETS Riders from Blasdell announced they would donate the proceeds of a fundraiser they did to the Warrior House.
Proceeds from the day are expected to exceed $20,000.
“This will go a long way toward helping any veteran in need,” Zeliff said. “This includes food and clothing for homeless vets.”
“It not only means food on the table for a needy veteran, but we have provided a truckload of wood for a veteran in the winter and money for HEAP to help with heating costs,” said Dan Anderson, commander of the VFW in Medina. “We also do a Christmas program, where we provide Christmas dinner and gifts for veterans and their families.”
A highlight of the day’s event included dedication of a new flagpole in the yard. Mark Zacher of Zacher Construction laid out the ground work, Oak Orchard Concrete donated the concrete and BOCES welded the steel design, which depicts a soldier kneeling in front of a cross. The ceremony included singing of the National Anthem and raising of new American, MIA and POW flags. This was followed with Taps, a 21-gun salute by veterans’ Honor Guard and displaying a flag draped casket by Medina’s American Legion and VFW.
The Warrior House will continue to provide hunting and fishing trips for veterans across the country.
“There’s nothing else like the Warrior House anywhere around here,” Wilcox said.