Guests sit at long tables, enjoying a spaghetti and meatball dinner to support Marine Sgt. Aaron Alonso at the Alonso Strong benefit held at American Legion Post 245, Saturday, April 12.

Township shows support for injured soldier

JEFFERSON – Businesses and residents in the township came together this past week to support and participate in multiple Alonso Strong benefits held throughout the town.

Marine Sgt. Aaron Alonso, a Jefferson Township High School graduate, was severely injured on February 8, 2014 in Afghanistan by an IED, losing both his legs. The husband and new father faces a long journey of medical treatment and rehabilitation.

The Aaron Alonso Committee organized each of the five events with all or a portion of the proceeds from each going directly to the Alonso family. On Thursday, Wendy’s on Rt. 15 offered to donate a portion of their dinnertime proceeds. Saturday morning the J-Town Cross Fit held a workout marathon, where athletes helped raise funds by participating in 45-minute workouts.

Saturday night the American Legion Post 245 hosted a spaghetti dinner. The event sold out during the week with more than 230 presold tickets. But, said an American Legion member, more than twenty tickets were sold at the door to accommodate anyone just stopping in.

Karen Slusark serves spaghetti dinners to guests of the Alonso Strong benefit held at American Legion Post 245, Saturday, April 12.
Karen Slusark serves spaghetti dinners to guests of the Alonso Strong benefit held at American Legion Post 245, Saturday, April 12.

“It’s overwhelming, all these people” said Aaron’s mother, Debbie Alonso, of the support at every event. Debbie and her husband Dave, who live in Lake Shawnee, said they make it a point to attend every event.

“It’s very important for us to say thank you,” she said.

For Jefferson residents Sue and Joe Sacino, the spaghetti dinner at the American Legion was a great way to be with friends and enjoy a meal, but, he said, “the cause is the biggest thing.” The Sacinos sat at a very long table with about 40 friends, including Pat and Linda Culdeny, lifelong friends of the Alonso family who drove from Milford, Pennsylvania to show their support.

On Sunday, the Knights of Columbus Council 12649 in Stockholm hosted a pancake breakfast. That same afternoon, Alonso family friend Susan Woomer hosted a vendor’s sale at the American Legion Post 423 in Oak Ridge. Woomer asked only local businesses to participate, beginning with her boyfriend’s mother who sells Lia Sophia jewelry. A total of twelve businesses signed on, including Makin’ A Splash from Oak Ridge.

“When I found out about this event, I knew we would be all in,” said Corey Ambler, store manager. Ambler and Aaron are friends from high school, he said. Each business was asked to donate at least ten percent of their profit.

Woomer and her father, Mike, started selling Alonso Strong bracelets immediately after Aaron got injured. To date, the pair has sold more than 700 bracelets and have raised close to $3000.

The Aaron Alonso Committee meets again on Wednesday, April 23 in the town council chambers at 7:30. The next scheduled event is a sock hop that will be held April 26 at the VFW Post 5360.

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