Community benefit helps Craig Gallow
BURDETT--Burdett's mayor, Dale Walter, was serving meat cheerfully and efficiently to at least the 500th diner- and the line of people waiting for food led out the door. He passed each plate to Terry Taney, standing next to him with scoops at the ready to serve macaroni salad and cole slaw. Both were smiling. At least 150 people were eating and chatting with their neighbors at any time. Outside, the spacious parking lot for the Burdett Fire Company was crammed with cars and the overflow lined both sides of Route 79 in each direction. Even halfway through the Craig Gallow Benefit Saturday, Feb. 29, it was clear the event was a roaring success.
Lieutenant Craig Gallow, longtime member of the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department and director of security at Watkins Glen International had been on his way to work Jan. 10 when a patch of black ice changed his life. Seriously injured after his vehicle struck a tree, he's currently in a trauma rehabilitation facility near Schenectady for this phase of his recovery.
His wife Melissa didn't tell him about the benefit, afraid he'd be embarrassed if he knew. "He's a very private person," she said. "And his recovery will be a long road--but he's a fighter."
Sharon Stadelmaier, one of the benefit's organizers, whose day job as records clerk and "Girl Friday" at the Sheriff's Office added, "His age is in his favor, he's only 50. And he likes being busy."
It was impossible to walk even halfway across either room without meeting at least a dozen friends and neighbors. Though the occasion was not the happiest community event, nor the weather the best the season had to offer, people turned out to support a treasured and important person in the community and to enjoy each others' company. But even the organizers were awed and amazed at the outpouring of donations contributed to put the event together.
For an array of raffles so abundant the display took two sides of the spacious truck bay, businesses from the area and further afield donated wine and products; artists and crafters sent their art; event tickets, lottery tickets, a 10-person sail on the True Love, overnight stays in area hostelries, Tupperware, tools, hunting and camping equipment were all presented invitingly. The sheriffs created "Team Gallow" t-shirts and can koozies. The koozies sold out quickly as did several sizes of the shirts, and a sign-up sheet appeared for the next order of shirts. They're $20, by the way, and can still be ordered from the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office. There was also a well-attended cake wheel and a 50/50 raffle. The 2 p.m. winner, Dan Walker, upon hearing he'd won $458, insisted on donating the funds back to the family.
Area eateries prepared and donated so much food, as did the race track--"We barely had to buy burgers or hot dogs," said undersheriff Breck Spaulding, one of the principal organizers and lifelong friend of Gallow. "We went to high school together, and worked together at the sheriff's office for 25 years, eight of which we were partners," Spaulding said.
Perhaps 30 volunteers worked on organizing and running the event. And their hard work was appreciated. "I ate so much--and it was all so good!" one patron commented ruefully as she left.
"It was all wonderful, from the hors d'oeuvres to the main course. Really well done!" said Joette McBride from Burdett. "And the raffles were so well organized. Everything was wonderful and I had a great time looking at everything. I enjoyed it--whether or not I've won." She learned later she had indeed won a raffle.
Reverend Jane Winters, from Penn Yan, probably spoke for many when she said, "I'm here because I want to support the family whatever way I can."
When it was over, Stadlemaier said they were pleased with the turnout and the community's generosity. More money was raised than hoped-for. "People were so generous--so many went above and beyond," she said. "We're so glad to do this for the family."