Jack Keavey and Robert Earle, two juniors from Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, helped raise more than $26,000 for wounded veterans needing service dogs, resulting from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.
The funds were raised in the first ‘Row with Dennis’ event in support of the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund on Sunday in front of more than 200 onlookers at the school’s McKay Gym.
Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, a CBA alumnus and distinguished West Point graduate, was killed in action by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005. The memorial fund was created and founded a year later in his honor.
“I am overwhelmed at the effort of these two young men,” said Marion Zilinski, co-founder of the Zilinski Memorial Fund and Dennis’ mother.
“As many of you know, CBA opened the gym up 18 years ago for my son’s viewing after he was killed in Iraq. Being here now and seeing the love, community, and patriotism in this room takes my breath away. Dennis would have absolutely loved this.”
When Keavey approached CBA rowing coach, Brenin Ford, about hosting a “Row with Dennis” ergathlon – where rowers compete against each other on stationary machines – the coach said: “Absolutely, but you’re going to do it.”
“You’re going to organize it, manage it, and run it. I’ll help you, but this will be your event, and that’s exactly what he did,” Ford said.
Keavey, Earle and the CBA Rowing Team organized 23 teams of four for the event.
The event also served as Keavey’s community service project for his scholarship through the Memorial Fund.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to run this event in Dennis’ name,” Keavey said. “He is our CBA brother. I think it’s special that we have an American hero as our brother here at CBA, and that needs to be remembered forever.
“His name lives on through the incredible work the Zilinski Memorial Fund does in his memory, and the proceeds will go to help wounded veterans by pairing them with service dogs.”
“Helping out is important to me because we are supporting deployed troops and veterans who served our country and fought for our freedom,” Earle added.
“We are honored that two wounded warriors attended this event today along with their service dogs, and we look forward to helping to pair other veterans in need with the funds raised. It’s a good feeling to help others, especially in the name of our fallen CBA brother.”
Businesses supporting the ‘Row with Dennis’ event included:
- Earle Heavy Civil Construction
- Simpson & Brown Marine & Civil Construction
- Career Connections
- Cullen (The Pump Boys)
- Allstate Burke Family Agency
- Stone Graphics Company
Adding extra emotion to the event was the fact that Matt Zilinski, the family’s youngest son, a husband and father of three, was in attendance before his deployment to Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“It is an emotional time for our family, and we are glad our son, Matt, was able to attend this event before his deployment,” said Dennis Zilinski, co-founder of the Zilinski Memorial Fund and Dennis’ father.
“We are so grateful for this amazing effort. This was such a creative way to fundraise, and everyone had a great time. Please know that with each service dog sponsored by the Memorial Fund, we save the life of a wounded warrior and the life of a shelter dog. Thank you all for helping us save lives.”
Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund
Lt. Dennis Zilinski, 23, was a Middletown, New Jersey resident, a Christian Brothers Academy alumnus, a distinguished West Point graduate, a member of the 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division.
Since his untimely death, family and friends have united with the Memorial Fund to provide support to improve the morale and welfare of members of the United States Armed Forces and their families.
One of the main accomplishments of The Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund is sponsoring service dogs for disabled American veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). To date, the Zilinski Memorial Fund has sponsored more than 100 service dogs.
Additionally, the Zilinski Memorial Fund provides scholarships to CBA students. By providing these scholarships, the Zilinski Memorial Fund invests in the future of high school students who embody the leadership qualities and community spirit of Lt. Zilinski.