By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Shrewsbury – The public is invited to come and meet local first responders at a family-oriented event, “LiveLife Family Day,” Sunday, July 27 at the Hebert Candy Mansion. The event will be hosted by the Worcester-based organization Valiant Veterans LiveLife Center and Massachusetts Vest-A-Dog.
On the slate will be kids” games and events, a free barbecue, music provided by a local disc jockey, raffles, police K9 demonstrations and meet and greets with local first responders. FINZ , the mascot of the Worcester Sharks hockey team will also be at the event from 1-2 p.m.? Other activities for kids include water balloon toss, splash balls, bubble machines, and face painting.
Valiant Veterans, based in Worcester, helps veterans with the tools and resources necessary to successfully integrate back into society after serving in the military. Shrewsbury resident Amanda Sullivan is the organization's co-founder and executive director.
“First and foremost this is a community day – a day to thank our first responders in person for the jobs they do every day to protect us,” she said. “It's also a way to thank military families for the sacrifices they make.”
With the exception of a few things, the majority of the day's events will be free.
That's thanks, Sullivan noted, to the generosity of many supporters, including the Northborough Walmart store, who is the day's main sponsor.
“And Heberts has been so generous to us allowing us to hold the event here,” Sullivan said. ???”They will also be donating all proceeds from ice cream sales to Valiant Veterans!”
Brewery Samuel Adams will be on site, offering one free beer to those of legal drinking age who show an ID. There will be a free barbecue grill with hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and water.
The Boston Bruins mascot “Blades” and two of the team's “Ice Girls” will be present for the entire event mingling and taking photos with the crowd. “FINZ ,”? the mascot of the Worcester Sharks hockey team will greet fans from 1-2 p.m.? Other activities for kids include water balloon toss, splash balls, bubble machines, and face painting. ?The Wheels-N-Motion BMX Stunt Team will also be performing.
Another highlight of the day will be the chance to meet “Corporal Gunnar,” a Siberian Husky/Alaskan malamute mix dog. For the past year, Sullivan has been training Gunnar to become a service dog who will go on to assist a veteran who has posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Thanks to Sullivan's frequent posting on Gunnar's personal Facebook page, he has become a celebrity in his own right, with nearly 5,700 friends from across the globe.
After she posted information about the July 27 event on Gunnar's page, his fans offered their assistance in a multitude of ways, Sullivan said.
“Most of the items for the raffle baskets, including a 32″ smart TV, were donated by his fans,” she noted. “They have been amazing.”
Other sponsors include Wheels N Motion BMX Stunt Team, Cumberland Farms, Southbridge Bikes, Moe's Southwest Grill, Flying Rhino, Astrella Ink, Flynn's Truck Stop, Al's Oil, Attorney Jay E. Macklow, Victoria Station Café, Hair Factory, Mirick & O”Connell, Mancuso Nowack Insurance, Divine Day Spa, Dimension Stone, Harvard Pilgrim, and Central One Federal Credit Union.