The generosity of community members, families, and local businesses helped make the fourth annual Faces of Valor USA Family Picnic Fundraiser the most successful to date.
The following article was submitted by Kathy Burk of Faces of Valor USA and edited.
More than 250 people from six states came together June 23 for the year’s motorcycle ride and family picnic to help raise funds for the Faces of Valor USA mission and to thank 2012 honoree/beneficiary, injured local Army Sgt. Luis Rosa-Valentin, for his sacrifice and service to our country.
The day kicked-off at 10:30 a.m. with a motorcycle ride through Annapolis. Spectators turned out up and down Main Street to cheer on the Faces of Valor USA car and more than 100 motorcyclists as they drove through downtown.
Ben Lerner, 87 and the oldest rider at the event, said, “To those who have done so much, good job well done! It’s just wonderful to help someone.”
Ramses Rodriguez, visiting from New York City, was waiting for breakfast at Chick and Ruth’s Delly, when the Faces of Valor USA motorcycle-cade passed. She said, “It was great energy. We loved the noise! It’s a great cause.”
Katrina Landis, from Annapolis said, “We were waiting to go into the restaurant, then all of a sudden there was noise, fire engines, and motorcycles. Everyone lined the street, started clapping, and getting into it. Anyone who provides some form of service to this country deserves to be honored and, if they have been wounded in the course of battle, putting out a fire, or trying to help people, then they deserve the help from the community. [Their] hardship is deeply, deeply appreciated.”
The ride concluded at the Knights of Columbus on Solomons Island Road where riders joined servicemen, business owners, families, friends, and neighbors for the Faces of Valor USA Family Picnic and Classic Car Show. The picnic was a true celebration of patriotism, service, and the American spirit. Attendees had the opportunity to come together, honor, and personally thank the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect American rights and freedoms, including Sgt. Rosa-Valentin.
Participants also visited more than 35 cars in the classic car show, and enjoyed picnic food prepared by Martin’s Caterers. Ted Levitt, owner of Chick and Ruth’s Delly and founder of Faces of Valor USA, publicly thanked Sgt. Rosa-Valentin for his service and explained how the event's proceeds will be used to build an addition and to continue the special adaptation of Sgt. Rosa-Valentin’s and his family’s home.
Sgt. Rosa-Valentin lost both legs and his left arm in Iraq in 2008. Today, Rosa-Valentin, a single father, is home with his two daughters, Meli and Bella.
“I am honestly honored to be here today. It warms the heart knowing that there are people wanting to give. Good things come to good people—and I’m not talking about myself—I’m talking about those helping out. I don’t think I’m a hero, but everyone sees me that way. I just hope to keep up the image, ” Sgt. Rosa-Valentin said.
Levitt said, "This year's event really touched the hearts of the folks who attended. They got a chance to meet the family being honored and see how their donations are helping to make a real difference in a family's life. You have to see it to believe it, It touches your heart like no other event. I realize how fortunate I am to be living in America and to do what I love, because of our servicemen and women, firefighters, and police. Reciting the Pledge at the Delly every day reminds me of all the folks who gave their lives so we all have freedom. It is a way to never forget the sacrifices they have made are not in vain."
Senator John Astle (D-Annapolis), who participated in both the motorcycle ride and the picnic, said, “A good crowd! A lot of enthusiasm! And the weather was perfect! We ask a lot of [firefighters, police, and soldiers] and we don’t give a lot in return. What we’re doing today providing for a [wounded] young man and his family’s needs is really, really on the right track.”
Tracey Berry, a volunteer EMT/Firefighter from Odenton said, " I enjoyed the day tremendously and was so moved by the experience. It was my first ride in a group... and I will do it again in a heartbeat for such an amazing, wonderful, worthwhile organization."
More than 30 local companies sponsored this year’s fundraiser, including: Martin’s Caterers, Brown Contracting, Bausum & Duckett Electric, Metropolitan Management Communities, R.E. Robertson Heating and Air , Ruhf + Plitt Architects, Eyes on Main, Eastern Performance Cycles, Arinc, Outback Steakhouse, Olmo Brothers Landscaping, Harley-Davidson, O’Briens, Reedgraphics.com, American Glass Co., Belair Produce, Ever Fresh, H&S Bakery, Instant Whip, Pepsi, Saval Foods, Stanley Foods, Wagner Foods, Knights of Columbus, and friends of John C. Astle.
One-hundred percent of the registration fees and contributions from this year’s event go directly to the mission of Faces of Valor USA – which is to provide scholarships and financial assistance to the families of military, firefighters, police, and EMS who are injured or killed in the performance of their duties.
The party may be over, but the purpose carries on. For everyone interested in showing their support to Sgt. Rosa-Valentin, donations continue to be accepted and can be made through the Faces of Valor USA website: www.FacesofValorUSA.org.