The Minnesota Business Aviation Association, in conjunction with the Gary Sinise Foundation, will hold a Stars & Stripes Charity Gala on Friday, June 28, at the Signature Flight Support Facility on the St. Paul Downtown Airport, with proceeds going to support a wounded veteran.
Running from 6 to 10 p.m., the gala includes a cocktail hour, entertainment, dinner, silent auction and program with Sinise as the keynote speaker. The proceeds will build a “smart home” in Duluth for U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Mark Litynski and his wife, Heather, whom he married after his first deployment. On his second deployment to Afghanistan, the Minnesota native was point man on a foot patrol; he lost both legs above the knee and his left forearm to an improvised explosive device on Nov. 19, 2010.
Sinise, best known as an actor, formed his foundation to “serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities,” according to the group’s website.
The Stars & Stripes Gala is an expansion into the broader community for MBAA, said gala Co-Chairman Neil Brackin, director of air transportation at General Mills. The group’s aviation-related activities range from providing scholarships to promoting legislation, such as the recent changes to Minnesota’s aviation taxes and fees.
Discussing ways to support the broader community in Minnesota, Greg Babcock, a member of MBAA’s executive committee, noted that veteran affairs affect MBAA members on many levels.
“Greg made the connection with the Gary Sinise Foundation to learn what they were doing locally, and the gala came from our brainstorming ways we could contribute,” said Brackin.
Beyond the immediate benefits, Bob Quinn, NBAA’s Central region representative, said, “The MBAA hopes that its Stars & Stripes Gala Committee serves as a blueprint for other NBAA regional organizations to partner with GSF to help grow awareness of the foundation’s work to support veterans, and to hold similar events in their respective communities.”