The North Caldwell Police Department is hosting a Pasta Dinner to benefit U.S. Army Private First Class Derek McConnell and his family. The dinner will be held at the Fireman’s Community Center on Gould Avenue in North Caldwell on Sunday, Oct. 16.
McConnell, 21, a former resident of North Caldwell and 2008 graduate of West Essex Regional High School, was in late July. As a result, he lost his left leg and his right leg to the knee, as well as sustaining other serious injuries.
With his mother, Siobhan Fuller, and girlfriend continuously at his side, McConnell is undergoing a series of operations and critical care at a military hospital in Bethesda, Md.
“We have to take care of this kid and this family,” said North Caldwell Police Sgt. Tom Mautone, who is spearheading the benefit.
Mautone said he was friendly with McConnell, who often stopped by the police station on his way home from school. The seargent recently visited him in the hospital to get his mother's blessing to hold the dinner.
"She won't leave," he said, "she's dedicated to staying there (during his recovery)."
The benefit dinner will raise money for Friends of Derek McConnell, a fund which was established to help the wounded soldier and his family with whatever needs and costs may arise.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children under 10. There will be three seatings at 2, 4 and 6 p.m. Approximately 180 people can be accommodated per seating.
To reserve tickets, indicate how many people and which seating you would like to attend by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets, which are wristbands marked with the time of each seating, will be available next week at various locations. Details are still in the works.
Anyone who wishes to make a donation or pay for tickets by check can send via mail to Friends of Derek McConnell, P.O. Box 1811, West Caldwell, NJ 07007. Please note on the bottom of the check if it's for "dinner" or "donation".
Volunteers and food donations are also welcome. More information is available at www.ncaldwellpd.com.