Once again, Brandi Tramazzo sponsored a fundraiser for her cause, BT Hero House, at the popular Speakeasy on Marco Island, with a crowd of lively supporters in attendance. Proceeds from the event enable BT Hero House to honor our military members who are in active service and dedicated to our country, but Brandi does this in a very unique way. Her commitment to honoring our military started in 2001.
“Living near the Jersey Shore when the September 11th attack occurred, I was overwhelmed at watching the towers with plumes of smoke, and the events. When Air Force One flew over, I remember looking up in the sky, seeing our president arriving, and watching first responders, and our military respond in our defense. I felt grateful and proud of their selflessness; they were heroes to me.”
“The idea was born during this time. I began to share my idea with active duty military officers, and listened to the challenges these soldiers and their families faced. I wanted a way to say ‘Thank You’ to these active duty defenders for their sacrifices to keep us safe, and to retain our freedom. We have an amazing country and it’s worth fighting for, however, these men and women, along with their families, need to know they are appreciated,” Brandi continued.
BT Hero House is a special experience for a man/woman presently serving in our military. Brandi contacts Post Commanders who contact First Sergeants to ask for their recommendation of a serviceman/woman who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, represented our country in a distinguished manner and sets himself/herself apart by these actions. After the person has been selected, the funds raised will enable the person actively serving to have a “self-healing,” all-expenses paid, with his/her family in Marco Island for a week.
Brandi started BT Hero House to honor the soldiers that are dedicated to serving our country. Because of their family and military commitments and financial concerns, they are very limited in what they can do to reacquaint adequately with their family members. BT House enables the recipient to take the family on a special trip, full of relaxation, tours, events and lots of time to bond, especially after long deployments. If the servicemen/women can positively “reconnect” with their families, they can experience rejuvenation and be ready for their next deployment.
In the past three years, 13 families of four enjoyed a week-long time of their lives, as a result of the money raised for this special tribute. Eventually, Brandi would like to purchase a Hero House so they could serve these families all year long. Right now, they depend on donations of houses or condos, gift certificates and the generous donations from fundraising events. “If we had a special house for the families to stay, we could serve more families. We receive many more nominations than we can fund and it’s painful to turn away deserving nominees because of lack of money. We need corporate sponsorship,” Brandi explained.
The Brandi Tramazzo Hero House Foundation is truly apart from other military foundations, in part, because they serve “active duty” military. The military and their families experience this tiny island that hosts them, and Marco Island makes a positive impression. Fortunately, the citizens of Marco Island are supportive of our military.
“I’m so blessed for Desiree and Nick, owners of The Boat House, who are immensely responsible for the success of this program, thanks to their ongoing, outstanding generosity. Corrie Billie’s and Marco Island Water Sports get huge accolades too! These three businesses are the ‘Trident Staff’ of the BT Hero House and are my ‘Holy Trinity’ because of their unparalleled support,” Brandi added.
The scheduling of families, depending on the time and duration of the leave from service, is a challenge. BT Hero House wants to provide this opportunity to the identified man or woman, but they have to consider the timing of housing donations and fundraising efforts. So, back to the Speakeasy!
Retired marine, Johnny Fusco, kept a lively pace with his music, assisting with auction items and keeping the crowd laughing and imbibing. There were many great donations from the businesses on Marco Island, which were appreciated and the bidding was strong. Every bit of the fundraising goes to the cause, no one takes a salary. Pam and Mike Schimente from Parrish, Florida bid on the Tommy Hilfiger beach bag because they have family in the Armed Forces. Another participant, Ed P., was moved to donate a week in a nearby condo. There were many more bidders.
“The purpose of BT Hero House is to thank those servicemen, servicewoman and their families for risking their lives for our nation by offering them time and a place to rest, recover, and reconnect with their families. The key difference is that this program is preventative. Brandi’s initiative reaches out to those returning service people to identify those at risk, engage them and their families to provide an opportunity to reconnect, recover and enhance their resiliency as they try to reintegrate into society and into their family lives,” stated Charles S. Tedder, MD, MPH, CPE, Colonel, USAF, MC, CFS Headquarters Air Combat Command Chief Medical Modernization and Plans (ACC/SGR).
There are several ways people can help:
1. Have a Facebook fundraiser.
2. Host an “in-home” casual gathering with friends and neighbors and the BT Foundation can give a 15-minute presentation.
3. Donate directly by contacting BT Hero House Foundation.
4. Provide their home or business for one of our fundraisers.
5. Donate through the company they work for that has a matching amount, which doubles their effort!
Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!