By Timothy Chipp firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — Dennis Brochey wears many hats. He’s a father and a husband. He’s the new supervisor of Lewiston. He was an automotive business owner. But his favorite of all may be philanthropist.
Each of the last 10 years, Brochey, along with the Niagara Powerlifting Club, has held a bench press fundraiser, the Red Brick Powerlifting Championship, to benefit America’s troops and their families. Combined over that time, more than $90,000 has gone toward helping servicemen and women, along with their loved ones, across the eight counties of Western New York.
This year, though, his group’s effort is focused not on its typical benefactors, but on the lives of those local soldiers lost in service since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They’re working with the Western New York Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial committee to help recognize the ultimate sacrifice.
“They’re still there,” Brochey said of the Iraq and Afghanistan-stationed soldiers. “They’re still fighting. It’s sad what’s going on. I know many people consider athletes as heroes, but policemen, firemen and our troops are the real heroes. They’re putting their lives on the line.”
Festivities this year kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday and take over the Connecticut Street Armory, 184 Connecticut St., Buffalo, with not only bench press exhibitions but also numerous basket raffle items. Combined with the money already raised in both entrance fees and corporate sponsorship sales, Brochey said he’s hopeful to raise more than $10,000 for the memorial effort.
He said among the powerlifting exhibitions Saturday, a woman is expected to attempt a 400-pound bench press while a male competitor is said to be attempting an 800-pound lift.
Brochey said he’s been working with Dan Frontera, veterans service coordinator at Erie Community College and a member of the memorial committee, to ensure the money goes towards the effort.
Frontera said the effort for the memorial, expected to be placed at the Buffalo Naval Park in downtown Buffalo, began four years ago and is anticipated to complete the process sometime this year.
“It’s been a community effort ... for the last four years now,” Frontera said. “The monument itself pays tribute to the now 68 individuals lost in service to this country since the Sept. 11 attacks. It covers all eight western counties. We’re looking at completion of the project this coming summer. Originally we had a target date of Memorial Day. We had a (setback), but we’re still looking to finish this summer.”
For more information on the Niagara Powerlifting Club’s fundraiser, contact Brochey at 200-3533. Donations to the cause can be made in check form made payable to Iraq Afghanistan Memorial Fund and sent to Brochey at 205 N. Fifth St., Lewiston, N.Y. 14092.
Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.