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East Norwich Fire Dept. Is Hosting Pancake Breakfast Benefit

Even to Take Place on Sunday, August 2

The East Norwich Volunteer Fire Company is holding a Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser on Sunday August 2, from 8 a.m. to noon, at East Norwich Fire Company Headquarters located at 900 Oyster Bay Road, East Norwich. It is a benefit to support East Norwich Firefighter Gary Wessel, who is recovering from a massive brain bleed stemming from an aneurism suffered on June 11, 2009.

Mr. Wessel had been suffering from severe headaches and was discharged from the hospital only two days before. He was being driven to a routine doctor’s appointment in Manhattan by his wife, Roseann, when he fell unconscious and subsequently fell into respiratory arrest. Roseann pulled over to the side of the road on the Whitestone Expressway, and luckily, two NYC workers, one being an off-duty paramedic, stopped after seeing Roseann trying to flag people down for help.

Shortly after, two NYC paramedics arrived, as well as two more off-duty FDNY EMT’s, who also stopped to assist. Mr. Wessel was safely taken to New York Hospital at Queens (formerly Booth Memorial Hospital), where he was stabilized and then rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital at Cornell, where he has since been in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit. Roseann told East Norwich Fire Company assistant engineer and event co-Chairman Tom Bradke that “there were angels watching over us on the highway that day”. They have a very long road ahead, but as the family has told Mr. Bradke, “we just want to be ‘ON’ that road with Gary”.

Tom Bradke said, “One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Wessel family for his medical and living expenses. He has a long way to go. He is a great guy. So, all of the volunteers are pulling together for him and his family. They are very active in the community.”

Firefighter, critical care technician, and event co-Chairman Brian McEvoy added, “If we can’t help one of our own, how could we help the rest of our community? It’s what we do. Gary is family to us.”

“Roseann Wessel is a very active volunteer with the Oyster Bay High School Performing Arts Center. She is a strong woman. She has just got everyone held together.

“Their youngest son, Steven, is very active in the theatre department at Oyster Bay High School, having played Seymour in The Little Shop of Horrors last year, and this year, Frank Butler in Annie Get Your Gun. He is very excited as he has just accepted a lead role in The Wedding Singer, to be performed at the CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale at the end of this summer.

“Their oldest son, Kevin, joined the Fire Company with his dad and is a Class-A fireman and is registered as a NYS EMT. He is a senior at Binghamton University studying psychology.

“Their daughter, Kelly, is attending Emerson College in Boston, Mass, and is a film major. She has recently begun to document their family’s plight, as this kind of catastrophic event could unexpectedly happen to “Any Man”.

“Gary is lucky, in that 90 percent of those who suffer a brain aneurism do not survive. He is fighting for recovery,” said Mr. Bradke. “He was lucky his wife acted quickly to get help and that the paramedics stopped to assist them.”

Now, just as Mr. Wessel has selflessly given to our community, he now needs your help and attention. He has a long road ahead, and the costs associated with the care he has received to this point and onward are and will be extensive. Being self-employed and the primary bread-winner, this leaves him and his family in a tough spot. Please attend the Pancake Breakfast on Sunday August 2, and bring your friends. Together, our community can help a great family survive an even greater challenge.

Event co-Chairmen Tom Bradke and Brian McEvoy said the pancake breakfast is an all-you-can-eat event. There will be pancakes, scrambled eggs, coffee, juice, muffins, Danish and much more. “We are still working out the details. At the same time, the East Norwich Juniors will also be holding a car wash.” All of the donations collected from the pancake breakfast and car wash will be given to the Wessel family to help support them during this difficult time.

Residents can come and enjoy a great breakfast, have a great time, and drive off with a clean car- but most importantly, leave with a great feeling knowing that they helped make a difference to a family who has given so much to our community.