Bear Trap Dunes community rallies to support neighbors

On Sept. 8, residents of Bear Trap Dunes will be holding “Dick Pienta Day,” consisting of a golf tournament and dinner, to raise money for their friend and neighbor Richard “Dick” Pienta, who suffered a serious stroke in January.

“They’ve always participated in everything, always volunteered for things,” said resident and committee member Marcia Bonifas of Pienta and his wife, Pat.

When news of Pienta’s condition spread throughout the community, neighbors banded together to help out.

“It’s neighbor helping neighbor and friend helping friend,” said Bonifas. “People would say to us, ‘What can we do?’ ‘What can we do?’ They couldn’t have flowers in the intensive care. … So we decided to help them.”

Residents at Bear Trap formed a committee and set up a recovery fund to help raise money for the family, sending out letters to more than 400 residents within the community requesting donations.

“We’ve had 65 responses from our letter going out,” she said. “We have a goal of $10,000. We’re working toward that goal. We didn’t know what the reception was going to be. It’s really been very generous from so many people.”

Donations may be made at Fulton Bank, as well, and Bonifas emphasized that all donations are anonymous.

The committee came up with the idea of a golf tournament fundraiser, as Pienta was an avid golfer.

“Dick has been playing golf since he was in the Marine Corps. He’s been playing for at least 50 years. He’s one of these people who has an affinity for it and just did very well,” said tournament Chairman Mike Phillips.

“And because so many people around here are into golf, and we thought it would be a fun thing for people to do,” added Bonifas of the tourney’s origins.

The tournament will be a nine-hole shotgun-style event, played on Bear Trap’s Black Bear course. A total of 72 golfers may play in foursomes.

“It’s going to be a casual setup,” said Phillips.

It will be more than casual, in fact, clarified Bonifas, with some of the event’s elements being a bit outside the box.

“It’s going to be fun and crazy,” Bonifas said. “So people who have golfed once or twice before in their lives could just as easily win one of the gag prizes as someone who’s golfed all their life – the farthest ball from the hole, instead of the closest ball to the hole, things like that.”

A “summertime picnic” dinner will follow in the Bear Trap Pavilion party room.

“It’s going to be an old-fashioned style. We decided to keep the costs down as much as possible because we want to generate as much revenue as possible for Dick and Pat,” said Phillips.

To attend the dinner or play in the tournament registration costs $25 per person. Tickets for both will cost $50. Those in the community who wish to attend the dinner without participating in the tournament may do so.

A silent auction of items donated by community members will also take place during the dinner, with auction items including a week of lawn service.

“We’re going to have a silent auction of things people are donating, not businesses. This is people in the Bear Trap community,” she explained. “I’m doing a baby quilt to be auctioned off. We’re looking for things like that, fun things, to raise money in the silent auction.”

Since Pienta’s release from Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, he has been moved to a rehabilitation facility in Williamsburg, Va., to be closer to his daughter.

Complicating the recovery process is the financial aspect of Pienta’s treatment. Once his Medicare coverage runs out, the family will have to pay for everything, from home visits with nurses and physical therapists to wheelchairs.

“In two weeks, their Medicare is finished. They become private-pay. They’re going to try to bring him home to the daughter and son-in-law’s house,” explained Bonifas. “We’re trying to raise some funds to help defray the costs.”

Bonifas and Phillips said they hope that community members will continue to support the local couple and will enjoy a round of golf and a good meal to help do so.

“We’re really looking forward to letting people know about it and have people in the community who want to play a fun nine holes of golf, laugh and come out and attend the dinner.”

“It’s important to keep in mind, this is not just to honor Dick, but Pat as well. We sometimes forget about the caregivers. Pat has certainly been involved almost 24-7 in the recovery Dick has made,” added Phillips.

“And what we want to do is honor Dick Pienta. Our hope is that he’ll be able to come out and see the banner and, though he won’t be able to play, it will be a wonderful opportunity to see him.”

Registration for the event and or dinner is now open. To buy tickets, or for more information, call or email Joan Bannon at (302) 539-3483 or, or Joan Walsh at (302) 542-5154 or To mail a donation, send it to the Dick Pienta Recovery Fund, 161 Willow Oak Avenue, Ocean View, DE 19970.