By Cindy Himes
Ken Wregget set a goal to raise $25,000 by hosting a fundraiser on June 5 at his 31 Sports Bar-Grille in Bridgeville; and, he exceeded that mark thanks to huge assists from a host of Pittsburgh celebrities including members of the Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni.
The event was held to benefit Life Changing Service Dogs for Veterans (LCSDV) and the goal was to raise enough funds to cover the cost of one service dog for a local veteran. The event raised over $26,000.
“With assistance from the Pens Alumni and other local celebs, we are extremely proud to announce that the day raised funds to provide a highly-trained service dog to a veteran in need; and, possibly save a life,” stated Wregget. “Thank you to everyone who helped, donated, and especially to our veterans.”
Along with Wregget, Penguins Alumni in attendance included Jay Caufield, Troy Loney, Mark Kachowski, J.S. Aubin and Ed Johnston. A variety of Pittsburgh celebrities were also on hand to fundraise including former Steelers running back legend and veteran Rocky Bleier, Pitt Panthers basketball great Julius Page, local rock & roll star Donnie Iris, among others.
LCSDV was established in Pittsburgh on Veteran’s Day 2015 by Vietnam veterans George D’Angelo, a former US Air Force fighter pilot, and Tony Accamando, a former Army Lieutenant. At an annual Veteran’s Day Breakfast, they announced a partnership with Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc. to form LCSDV to honor and respect the lives of veterans.
LCSDV is a group of unpaid volunteers working solely for the benefits of our regional veterans. They are not aligned with any organization, other than Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc. and are driven solely by the desire to help meet the needs of the men and women who are Veterans of United States Military Service.
At the June 5 event, LCSDV President Bill Jeffcoat presented Wregget and Nicole Baker, 31 Sports Bar-Grille Manager of Operations/Special Events, with a commemorative plaque that read: Presented to Nicole Baker & Ken Wregget for their steadfast support of military veterans. Because of Nicole & Ken’s willingness to help military veterans, Life Changing Service Dogs for Veterans is able to continue saving lives of veterans through the training and placement of Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc.
LCSDV believes that too many veterans commit suicide. The Veterans’ Administration estimates that 22 of our veterans commit suicide every day. Focusing on that number, the LCSDV goal is to provide service dogs to 22 veterans and reduce those 22 veteran suicides a day down to zero.
It takes two years to fully develop a service dog; including food, veterinary care, and over 1,500 hours of training. Those development programs cost approximately $25,000 per dog.
The 31 Sports Bar-Grille event proved to be a huge success with a record attendance and fundraising via themed raffles. But equally great news is the fact that it may help the LCSDV organization to grow.
“Our event was covered on social media by some veterans in Indianapolis,” stated Wregget enthusiastically. “They also saw a need in their community; and, I believe that a second chapter of LCSDV may be formed there. It really is an amazing story!”