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‘We Are Grateful’

Memorial Run Achieves Goal, Raises $86,000

Since 2014, the Darren Manzella-Lapeira Memorial Run raised $86,000 to support local veterans services. Pictured from left are Lisa Lynde, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation program officer; Mike and Nancy Manzella, Darren’s parents; and Greg Carlson, Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency director. Submitted photo

“We set a goal, and feel that we have now achieved it.”

Following this year’s Darren Manzella-Lapeira Memorial Run, event organizers and Darren’s parents, Nancy and Mike Manzella announced that this year’s event was the last.

“We are grateful to our sponsors, donors, volunteers and community organizations that have contributed in any way, shape or form, their time and effort to support the run over the past six years,” the Manzellas said in a joint statement.

Since the inaugural run in 2014, more than $86,000 has been donated to support local veterans and students.

One of the organizations benefitting from the race proceeds is the Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency, which receives funds from the Darren Manzella-Lapeira Veterans Assistance Fund, administered by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.

According to Greg Carlson, director of the Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency, the Veterans Assistance Fund has provided financial support to more than 100 local veterans since 2014.

“This fund is an answer to the prayers of local veterans who may have fallen on hard times and just need a little help,” Carlson said.

“Since this fund is locally controlled, getting help from the fund is not a VA benefit that must go through a long process that is discriminatory in nature.”

Veterans have received assistance with paying rent, utility bills, medical bills, daycare costs, car repairs and more.

Race proceeds also benefit the Veterans Endowment Fund at the Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency and the Staff Sgt. Darren Manzella-Lapeira Scholarship Fund at Brocton Central School.

“Not only has this event been rewarding for the proceeds we have raised for area veterans, but also for all of the support we received to keep our son’s legacy alive,” the Manzellas said.

A U.S. Army medic and civilian who used his military experiences to help veterans and current service members, Darren was killed in a car accident in August 2013.

At the time of his death, he was serving as a Staff Sergeant in the Army National Guard and working as a counselor at the Canadaigua Veterans Crisis Call Center.

In addition to his lauded service as a medic while serving two tours of duty overseas during The Iraq War, and for his compassionate listening skills, Darren will be remembered for his heroism in challenging the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which was repealed in 2011.

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