Broward County, Florida, June 22, 2021. The Patriot Dinner event featuring keynote speaker General Michael Flynn and co-hosted by Michele Merrell and Richard DeNapoli to benefit the SoldierStrong charitable organization on Friday, May 21st, 2021, attracted some 300 attendees and raised $140,000. This amount included a specific contribution of $21,319 which represented all of the proceeds collected from ticket sales after expenses with the co-hosts taking no fee and donating their time. The rest of the money was raised from donations made by attendees on the night of the event, as well as a matching gift that was promised.
The monies raised were enough to purchase another technologically advanced “SoldierSuit,” which enables military veterans with spinal cord injuries sustained during combat to literally walk again. General Michael Flynn, after seeing the demonstration of the revolutionary SoldierSuit exoskeleton that enabled paralyzed veteran Staff Sergeant Bryce Cherryholmes to walk, asked everyone to support SoldierStrong and said, “We witnessed a miracle tonight.” General Flynn specifically thanked Merrell and DeNapoli during his speech for organizing the event.
Chris Meek, the Co-Founder and Chairman of SoldierStrong, wrote that Ms. Merrell and Mr. DeNapoli “both did an excellent job pulling this event together within such a short period of time, and we are forever grateful for your efforts … and taking no fee for yourselves, which was incredibly generous.”
Meek recognized that “Lt. General Flynn’s keynote address was especially poignant as he eloquently emphasized the many benefits we enjoy and the importance of never forgetting and always valuing the service and sacrifices of those that serve. Our Gold Star families have suffered the ultimate sacrifice and so many others are living with extremely challenging health and mental health problems due to their service to our country. It is our job to come together as a nation and care for those that have done so much to care for us.”
Meek emphasized that the Patriot Dinner event “illustrated the strong sense of veteran support that exists in Broward County,” and how the money raised “allows us to further the important work we do to help our nation’s heroes take their next steps forward in life.”
A video highlighting the hugely successful Patriot Dinner is included below, as well a video of the complete event, a letter from Chris Meek thanking Merrell and DeNapoli, and pictures from the event.
SoldierStrong is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to provide revolutionary technology, innovative advancements and educational opportunities to veterans to better their lives and the lives of their families. You can read more about SoldierStrong at www.soldierstrong.org.