Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 25 January 2013 00:00
Following two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, Marine Sgt. Ryan Donnelly, a Purple Heart recipient, was chosen as the winner of the free wedding contest at the Viana Hotel and Spa in Westbury.
Donnelly, who attended Newfield High School in Selden and was the school’s top male athlete in 2002, will exchange vows with fiancée Tina McGrory, a U.S. Army veteran, on March 16.
“The idea of giving back to those who served our country, and fought for us, seemed the right thing to do,” said Frank Frisone, Manager at TD Bank in Westbury and president of the Westbury-Carle Place Chamber of Commerce.
An improvised explosive device (IED) struck Donnelly’s Humvee during his last tour of duty in Iraq in 2005. Following weeks of infection, his right leg was amputated above the knee.
Donnelly, who works in the LI Local 200 Plumber’s Union apprenticeship program, said he enlisted in the Marines to “help preserve the American way of life.”
Donnelly and McGrory will receive a bridal gown, reception for up to 50 people, hotel rooms for the couple and their out of town guests, flowers, DJ, video and photo services and party favors – all free of charge, thanks to the generosity of local sponsors.
Viana Hotel and Spa is an environmentally efficient luxury hotel that opened at 3998 Brush Hollow Road in Westbury in October 2011.
Rafael Encarnacion and Jessica Allain, runner-up winners, will receive a free night and breakfast at the Viana Hotel, among other gifts. Encarnacion, a NYPD officer, served two tours in Iraq and is scheduled to go back for a third. He and his fiancée are expecting their first child.
“Both couples we chose are very deserving. The small community businesses that make up the Westbury-Carle Place Chamber of Commerce were only too happy to take part in furnishing the event,” Frisone added.
This past June, Donnelly and his fiancée were given an affordable home in Lake Ronkonkoma, thanks to Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County and LI Home Builders Care Development Corp.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said he was honored “to give back to our military community and to help one lucky couple start their lives together in a very special way.”
Saturday, 18 May 2013 00:00
For most of the ’80s, ZZ Top was an inescapable presence thanks to a plethora of videos, often times containing underdog storylines revolving around gorgeous gals, a 1933 Ford hotrod and the hirsute threesome serving as a Greek chorus of cool to the aggrieved protagonist. But amidst all the bells and whistles, the most impressive feat pulled off by this Texas power trio was using 1983’s Eliminator to adapt its bluesy hard rock boogie sound and modernize it with synthesizers and drum machines sans any kind of artistic compromising.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
John Romandetti saved six people, but he shies away from the title hero.
“I don’t think of myself as a hero,” Romandetti says. “It’s nothing anyone else wouldn’t have done.”
During Hurricane Sandy, Romandetti risked his own life to go out to Howard Beach and get his girlfriend’s family out of their flooding homes. The Bethpage Air Show recently recognized his bravery, naming him the grand prize winner of the Hurricane Sandy Community Heroes contest. Romandetti, along with nine other winners, will receive VIP tickets to the Bethpage Air Show, plus the reception, and GEICO Skytypers Planeside Meet and Greet. As the grand prize winner, Romandetti also gets the chance to fly with the GEICO Skytypers during next week’s airshow.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
Westbury Okinawan Karate recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary of coming to the Westbury Recreation Center. Since then, the dojo has trained 250 students, ages six and up, in the art of karate with the style of traditional Okinawan ShorinRyu Shidokan.
Founded by sensei John Power, the classes seek to instill the confidence and strength needed to obtain success in everyday life.
“A lot of kids are lacking confidence,” said Power. “We let them practice leadership in the class and this contributes to their confidence.
Friday, 10 May 2013 00:00
Members of the Carle Place Sparc/Interact club recently donated their time and talents at the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Queens. Working together with students from Mineola High School and Holy Cross High School in Queens, the SPARC members planted over 1,000 indigenous trees to help replenish one section of the 600-acre forest park. The group’s efforts were part of the NYC Plant a Million Trees Project in honor of Arbor Day, celebrated on Friday April 26th. The Carle Place planters were: Sarah Megiel, Kelsey Feit, Julia Powell, Sabrina Feit, Monique Slater, Matt Carr, Katie Megiel, Rob Ibos, and Lauren Powell. They are led by faculty advisor Kieran Morris.