With all the cancelations and postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company’s Ladies’ Auxiliary was limited in their fundraising efforts this year.
However, their 2nd Annual Golf Scramble event, held on Friday, Sept. 11, was a rousing success. It also helped to recognize and honor those first-responders who perished on that fateful day 19 years ago.
“It was a great success,” said Maureen Eisenhart. “We were fortunate to have the weather cooperate. To tell you the truth, it looked a little iffy this morning, but it really turned out to be a very nice day. We’ve raised over $7,000, and with it being our only fundraiser this year, that is really good.”
The event was held at the Salt Pond Golf Club, with a sellout slate of 73 golfers participating. In total, the fundraiser — which included golf, various raffles and a “Chinese” auction — brought in $7,004.18. Many of the monetary raffle winners donated their winnings back to the auxiliary for the fire company.
Miriam Feldman was the lucky winner of the 50/50 raffle and donated the $240 prize back to the event, as did the winner of the putting contest, which netted $180 for the top prize, who was not named.
While the event’s may focus was on raising money for the fire company, it also featured two participants who were actually first-responders who helped at the site of Ground Zero in New York City. Det. Dennis Downes of Ocean View and Lt. Tom Renda of Bethany Beach both saw firsthand the destruction that was caused on 9/11.
“It was such a national tragedy,” Downes said after finishing up his round of golf. “I was assigned to rescue and eventually recover remains at Ground Zero. The biggest thing was how everyone came together from that moment. People from different walks of life — police, firemen, civilians, volunteers — everyone trying to come together, and showing unity and community in trying to recover and save people during such a fatal event.
He said Sept. 11 “is a day that we pay tribute to the fallen heroes that responded to a call for help and lost their lives. I think it’s important for us to come together and kind of express our feelings about that day.
“A lot of us still have very vivid memories about that day, and it’s very helpful to talk about that day. It’s my generation’s Pearl Harbor. The American spirit of people just trying to help each other, and that’s what was going on. That’s what’s going on here today when the Bethany Beach Volunteer Auxiliary puts together this event to raise some proceeds for some life-saving equipment. It’s all so worthwhile.”
For Renda, being at Ground Zero as a member of the New York City Fire Department was truly a life-altering experience. He spent six months working on the site, while also maintaining his full-time shifts at the firehouse. The images and events from those days are forever imprinted in his memory, he said.
“My company went down that was working that day,” said Renda, who was with Engine 332 out of Brooklyn during the attack. “It was six months of my wife being by my side, doing whatever I had to do. I was going to funerals. I was going down in the piles [of debris]. I was working the firehouse. That was basically our life for six months — working the firehouse, funerals or working at Ground Zero.
“We lost at least 15 guys that I had worked with on a regular basis. We lost a lot of guys that day. When you come to [an event] like this, it really shows that the community really hasn’t forgotten about 9/11, and whenever you have a chance to remember that day is really special. I’ll always remember that day, and there are people who, unfortunately, have forgotten about it.”
The BBVFC Auxiliary golf fundraiser is something that many felt was the perfect way to reflect, remember and remind those who may need it that what happened 19 years ago is still important. How the country came together in those days and months after was remarkable, and many expressed that they wished the country could once again return to those times of patriotism.