The recently renovated banquet room inside the Kelley-Gazzerro VFW Post 2812 has never been filled with as much love, fine food and fellowship as there was last Thursday night.
The event was presented by the Johnston Association of Firefighters Local 1950 under the direction of Battalion Chief Richard “Bo” Boehm.
Jon Pistacchio and Mike Murray perhaps best summed up the success of the fundraiser, which brought in roughly $6,000 for Local 1950 brother Adam Barros, his wife, Lynette, and their two daughters. The family lost everything on March 20 when a fire destroyed their Glocester home.
“All I can really say is that this was a great event,” said Pistacchio, who is Local 1950’s vice president. “All of the credit should go to [Boehm] … who along with [Murray] from Funny4Funds put this event together from start to finish.”
Murray, known as “The Deaf Comedian,” told the audience that “as Johnston resident, I felt it was my duty to do my part to help [Boehm] put on this event.”
On a night that featured the brothers Spirito – Greg and David of Spirito’s Restaurant fame – putting out their best homemade Italian buffet, Funny4Funds featured over 20 raffle prizes with a total value of $2,000 and 10 silent auction items, including an autographed, framed print of former New England Patriots star Tedy Bruschi and a painting of a firefighter donated by firefighter Anthony Rainone.
Additionally, Johnston native and current Boston Bruins standout Noel Acciari sent along an autographed game jersey that took in $225.
The event was highlighted by Funny4Funds providing laughs. Performers included Murray and his partners Brad Pearce and headliner Bill Simas.
“Mike and his guys really made tonight special,” said Dave Pingitore, a Johnston firefighter and Local 1950 board member. “Their show kept everyone laughing and laughing … there were no dead spots from the three obviously talented comedians.”
“After enjoying their great show, it’s easy to see of Funny4Funds has raised over $3.5 million for charities in and around Southeastern New England,” added John Jasparro, chairman of Local 1950’s Executive Board.
Last Thursday night’s show was also supported by A Custom Car Stereo, The Bridge at Cherry Hill, Cherry Hill Florists, Cherry Hill Manor, Classic Café, Edgewood Gallery, English Muffin, Honey Dew Donuts and the Tsoumakas family, Hope Recovery Support LLC, Nino’s Pizza, the Original Italian Bakery, Domenic aRusso, the Brockway family, Fred Divers NKFD 1651, Tom and Louanne Marcello, Anthony Rainone, Marc Ramieri (R-L 1950), Cindy Tanguay and Spirito’s Restaurant.
Almost as soon as the curtain came down and Murray closed out the show, Barros said he was “grateful” for the support of his fellow firefighters and the entire community.
“In the midst of this horrible tragedy, the communities of Johnston and Glocester, JFD and High Steppin’ Dance Academy have made this transition as painless as it possible could be,” he said. “The outcry of support even still is amazing. People coming out on a work and school night to support my family is amazing. My wife and I are moved by the kindness everyone has shown.”