Rotary Gala to Support Wounded Warriors

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Dine with a Marine and make a difference in their lives at the same time.

That’s what the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club is offering guests who attend Passport to Patriotism, their March 22 fundraiser for the club’s Wounded Warriors program.

The program supports injured active duty Marines and Navy corpsmen headquartered at Camp Pendleton and their families, unlike the national group with a similar name that only helps veterans.

The Wounded Warriors battalion at Camp Pendleton assists service members through their recovery and transition back into civilian life. There are roughly 420 active duty members in the battalion.

“In 2013 the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club is launching efforts to raise funds for childcare, education and job training for the dependents of our wounded heroes,” the club’s website reads.

The rotary aims to address “the needs that are not normally covered by other organizations or have been hampered by shrinking (Department of Defense) budgets,” it continued. And, “specifically dealing with the financial security of the families,” added Laura Dietz, military liaison for the club.

Part of the program focuses on the spouse, by funding job training and/or education as they transition into the new family dynamic, in which the spouse often becomes the primary breadwinner, Dietz explained. They also aim to financially help with childcare.

“Our goal on March 22 is to initiate the process of raising funds to provide job training and education for the spouses,” Dietz said. And “to help financially stabilize these families.”

Another way the club is supporting the active duty wounded warriors is through Senate Bill 1287, which became law Jan 1.

Wounded Marine warrior, Staff Sgt Darrell "Wes" Rushing. with his guide dog, Gracie, receiving the first discounted fishing license for injured active duty service members, now allowed under the new state law. — Photo courtesy Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club
Wounded Marine warrior, Staff Sgt Darrell “Wes” Rushing. with his guide dog, Gracie, receiving the first discounted fishing license for injured active duty service members, now allowed under the new state law. — Photo courtesy Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club

The new law allows the Department of Fish and Game to provide fishing licenses to injured active duty service members at discounted rates, previously reserved only for disabled veterans.

The club hosted a special ceremony March 8 for Staff Sgt Darrell “Wes” Rushing, the first active duty Wounded Warrior to receive a fishing license under the new state law.

“The goal is to provide therapeutic recreation for all wounded warriors,” and encourage to them to stay active, Dietz said.

The NB Sunrise Rotary Club Wounded Warriors program also supports the active duty Marines and Navy corpsmen with other services, include music therapy, gift cards at Christmas, voting opportunities, and participation and support of Wounded Warriors events.

All of this will be supported by funds raised at next week’s gala.

Many wounded warriors and their spouses from Camp Pendleton are scheduled to attend, including Rushing and Fullwood.

The event will include a reception, dinner, dancing and auction items, including day with the Wounded Warriors battalion at camp Pendleton led by Lt. Col. James Fullwood, Dietz said, the day will also include a shooting experience with the same equipment marines train on during their Warrior Games, she said.

“Our focus is to make the community aware of the need,” Dietz said. “I’m hoping the generosity of the Newport Beach community will shine and (residents will) join  us on March 22 to give these Marines and their families a huge morale boost and thank them in person for their sacrifices, which will be with them the rest of their lives.”

The gala will be held at 6 p.m. March 22 in the Harborside Restaurant and Grand Ballroom at the Balboa Pavilion. Tickets start at $150. For tickets and more information, visit newportbeachsunriserotary.org/fundraiser2013 or call (949) 612-0992.

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