Members of the Nam Knights Westside Chapter were up early this morning, April 6, to prepare for the club's wildly popular annual fundriaser at Winthrop in Riverview, where pigs are roasted and dollars are raised to benefit the Haley House Fund and some law enforcement charities.
The event runs from noon to 5 p.m., with food served until 4 p.m. The event features as well live music, beer and vendors. The fundraiser is at the Winthorp Pole Parn off Bloomingdale Avenue, between Watson and Providence roads.
The cost to attend is $15. There was a $5 discount for tickets purchased in advance.
Mary Ann Keckler, with the aid of Mary Ellen Harlan and Dr. Steven Scott, founded the Haley House Fund, a charity that houses and supports the families of soldiers cared for at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa, at 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
The year was 2004, Keckler said in a 2011 Brandon Patch interview, “and family members were not being accommodated, they were sleeping in their cars, some of them.”
The trio met with Braun and announced the group’s formation at a Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce event.
The Haley House Fund works with area hotels to house and feed family members and significant others who come from all over the country to lend support to those who care for their loved ones who come back forever changed from injuries sustained during active duty and training missions.
Billed as “the American military veteran and law enforcement motorcycle club,” the Nam Knights Westside organization notes on its Web site that over the past six years it has been able to contribute more than $61,000 to the Haley House Fund through its annual pig roast charity fundraiser.
It was at this year’s fifth annual event, April 2, that Dave Braun, a past honorary mayor of Brandon, and Keckler talked about the Haley House Fund and its mission.
“We are supporting veterans and soldiers including those who are among the most injured soldiers of the Afghan and Iraqi wars,” Braun said. The injuries, he added, “are some of the more ungodly,” including “brain trauma, head trauma, amputation and and severe burns, where facial features and chests, arms and legs are disfigured."
The focus of the Haley House Fund is to support the soldier’s caregivers.
“We’re having to train these family members [and significant others] to be caregivers for the rest of their lives,” Braun said. “The hospital trains them and we enable them to be housed and transported at no charge."
- Haley House Fund Benefits From Nam Knights Westside Fundraiser (2011)