Many people in our community know someone who has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Dana Bradley, 39, of Cornelius, attended the Patriot Gala last year, he was so moved by the event's mission that he decided to get involved.
Bradley now serves on the board and is one of the key people responsible for planning the event, which began in 2006.
According to the Gala Web site, the mission of the organization is to raise funds to financially support nonprofit organizations concerned with the immediate welfare, care and support of military troops and their families who are wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Bradley was an integral part in planning this year's event, held Nov. 7 at Quail Hollow Country Club.
He assisted with obtaining sponsorships, coordinating ticket sales and meeting with executive directors of many charities to determine who would be the beneficiaries. Bradley, along with other board members, took care in choosing both local and national organizations that coincided with the vision of the Patriot Gala.
Bradley said that he chose this organization to work with because it "supports wounded warriors in our own backyard."
His efforts led to a memorable evening as well as significant donations for both local and national organizations.
Some of the organizations who will benefit from the gala are: The Fisher House, Hope For The Warriors, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, USO of Charlotte and the American Legion Auxiliary Unit. Each of these organizations has a mission to help U.S. service members and their families.
As Bradley describes the evening of the gala, which he attended with his wife, Robin, it is evident the pride that he feels for both the organization and the people who make it memorable.
A member of the Patriotic Parachute team jumped from a plane and parachuted to the golf course holding the American Flag. He had flares in his boots, which made for a beautiful scene amongst the backdrop of Quail Hollow.
WSOC-TV news anchor Erica Bryant served as master of ceremonies for the evening. The main speaker, retired Army Maj. Gen.Charles H. Swannack Jr. delivered an inspiring message. Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory read the names of all those from the Carolinas who died serving our country over the past two years.
The room fell silent as attendees watched the rifle team honor all of the fallen soldiers with a 21-gun salute, which was performed outside.
The bands Thom Crumpton and Wizdom gave their time for the evening. Several local companies sponsored the event and donated items for the live and silent auction. Piedmont Natural Gas was a major sponsor of the evening. Although total numbers have not been announced, the Patriot Gala has raised more than $1 million dollars since its inception.
Although Bradley has spent many hours planning for the success of this year's gala, he also has a family and full-time career. He is the principal at Performance Holdings, a commercial real estate investment firm. When he is not working or volunteering, Bradley loves spending time with Robin, his son Colin, 3, and his daughter, Maya, eight months. He also enjoys adventure travel, golf, boating and exotic cars.