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Helping wounded soldier reunite with family demonstrates Gilroy’s big heart

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Now that the McCarthys have returned to our town after visiting their son, Specialist Cory McCarthy, At Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, I believe it is time to let our citizens know how overwhelming their support of this young injured soldier was.

When I picked up and read my paper last Friday, the story jumped out at me, and my first thought was that we couldn’t let this happen. As The Dispatch stories have noted, the McCarthys are longtime, hardworking Gilroyans with a seriously injured young man in hospital a continent away.

I got the McCarthy’s home number from The Dispatch. After speaking to Carol McCarthy at her job and determining that she and her husband were amenable to a trip financed by the family’s fellow Gilroyans, I started working the phone.

Falling off a log would be hard work compared to this project. I called my fellow councilmember Al Pinehiro, whose wife, Vilma, is a travel agent, and described the situation. Although the Pinheiros were on vacation, Al’s immediate response was “find out when they want to go and we’ll book the tickets. We’ll worry about getting paid later.”

Next I called Wayne Cegelske, of VFW Post 6309, where I am a member, and described the situation. Wayne’s immediate response was “How much do you need?” Luckily, I was able to contact Post officials at the Friday Night Bingo session, and they agreed immediately to set up a copy of the paper as well as a jar for donations from the Friday night Bingo players, which collected a substantial sum. I was touched when I returned to find among the cash contributions a substantial check from the Post.

My phone rang off the hook the entire weekend and my e-mail lit up like a Christmas tree with Gilroyans eager to help. Jay Baksa’s staff, Rhonda Pellin, Susan Johnson, and Donna Greenhut, readily agreed to be the collection point for donations.

Checks poured into City Hall. People stopped me on the street to hand me checks; when an account was opened at Monterey Bay Bank for donations, the first deposit was a $1,000 check from an anonymous donor.

Another anonymous caller to my home said “I didn’t ASK you how to make a donation. How much do you need TOTAL? I’ll write a check.”

Another check had a note enclosed: “I’m a single mother raising two boys. I wish this could be more.” Many enclosed get-well cards, and one sent a gift of the extremely coveted tuxedo-clad bobblehead doll.

While I am sure that when the McCarthys get resettled they will thank each contributor, they’re simply too numerous to mention here, and what could be a better outcome than that?

If Chicago is “the city with big shoulders,” then surely Gilroy can be described as “the city with the big heart.”

The spirit of Shannon Brace lives, Gilroy. Even for as great a town as this, you’ve done yourselves proud.

Robert T. Dillon, Gilroy

Submitted Tuesday, Aug. 26 to editor@garlic.com

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