For the third time this year local residents were invited to the downtown Freehold area to take part in a Flavor of Freehold event. This time the proceeds from the event helped to benefit a local veteran’s non profit organization.
The Brennan Stands Alone Foundation was started by the family of Capt. Brian Brennan after he suffered serious injuries in combat only to work his way back into active duty even as a double amputee.
His mother Joanne said since the foundation was started they have raised close to $300,000 to help fellow veterans recovering from serious injuries and their families through what can be a very difficult time.
When her son was wounded back in 2008 she said she could not have envisioned they would have this foundation or that it would be as successful as it has been. “I couldn’t think of anything but Brian for about a year,” she said. “We knew right away that we had to do something going forward once Brian was okay because you can’t get the gifts that we’ve received and not give back.”
The next big fundraiser for the foundation is set for November 23 at the Southard Firehouse in Howell. The annual dinner dance will honor Capt. Robert Charles and Cpl. Rory Hamill. Brennan said this year’s event hits close to home as Charles was her son’s nurse who treated him for close to 26 hours to keep him alive in Afghanistan.
Charles’ story took a decided different turn three years ago when, struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), his wife found him trying to kill himself. Brennan said this year’s dinner is dedicated to the “Walking Wounded,” people suffering with PTSD. “If you saw them standing there you wouldn’t know anything is wrong with them,” she said. “Devastation is not just because you lost all your limbs, it devastates your life in other ways.”
This Flavor of Freehold is being held on Tuesday and Wednesday and Richard Gatto, CEO of Downtown Freehold said it has become an important event for the borough. The previous events were held during the weeks of St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July.
One of the nice parts of the event, he said is that not only do the larger restaurants get involved, but it also includes smaller establishments and other shops in the downtown area. “On a night like tonight we were able to bring 100 people into smaller restaurants that may not have had that kind of foot traffic on a Tuesday or Wednesday night,” he said.
Since the event started this is the first time they have partnered with a non-profit which Gatto said makes this time special. “This one was special,” he said. “I think it was a natural fit and it seems like quite a success.”