Community Joins Hands to Support Marine
The Doings Clarendon Hills
November 23, 2011
By Lynn Petrak Trend
As people streamed into Bella Banquets in Countryside to attend a fundraiser for a local Marine recovering from injuries sustained in a landmine explosion, they were greeted by the sights of American flags and the sounds of a band playing the Beatles’ song, “Come Together.”
The community did, in fact, come together in a big way at the “Join Hands for Josh” fundraiser for 23-year-old La Grange native and Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Misiewicz, who lost both of his legs and suffered two shattered eardrums in July while deployed in Afghanistan.
The turnout was so high that parking lots filled up quickly and the crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder in the main banquet room, where the band “Hip Pockit” played, guests enjoyed a variety of foods and drinks and tables were lined with nearly 100 items for a silent auction.
According to Josh’s father, Bill Misiewicz, the response to the event, which was organized by the family’s neighbors and friends, was overwhelming.
“About 750 people brought tickets beforehand, and we sold almost 500 at the door. It was something special,” he said.
Although final figures still are being calculated, Bill Misiewicz predicts that the ticket sales, raffle donations and auction purchases, along with a $10,000 check presented by the president of the Disabled Patriots Fund of Illinois netted at least $100,000. The funds will help the family defray some of the significant expenses of Josh’s ongoing rehabilitation.
Not that anyone minded the large crowd. “I came out to enjoy a night where I could have a drink with friends and have a good time, because Josh gave me the right to do that,” said guest Pat Heslin of La Grange, who heard about the event through an email from a friend.
United States Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) extended his own hands to the “Join Hands for Josh” event. “I wanted to come out and support Josh and his family because of the sacrifice they have made for us all. I’m looking forward to meeting Josh when I return to Washington,” Lipinski noted.
Throughout the night, dozens of volunteers with special tee-shirts emblazoned with “Join Hands…now and forever” helped keep things running smoothly.
One volunteer was the Misiewiczs’s neighbor, Tom Petit, whose own son is a Marine and who has known Josh since he was four. According to Petit, the fundraiser’s success stemmed from many collaborative efforts. “It’s a wonderful experience to see everyone in the community pitch in,” he remarked.
As a testament to his much-talked-about perseverance, Josh Misiewicz thanked the crowd via a heartfelt video message that was played to the crowd and noted that he was on track to meet some short-term goals he has set for himself.
He reached one of those objectives that same weekend, when he attended a Marine Corps Ball in Las Vegas with his mother, Nancy, who is taking turns with husband Bill in spending time with Josh.
Bill Misiewicz reports that other goals are coming along for his son, who was recently fitted with prostheses. “Because that trip to the Marine Corps Ball went so well, we are firming up plans for him to come home for Christmas,” he reported, adding that it may take as long as 18 to 24 months for his son to walk out of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. for good.
Donations are still being accepted online at www.joinhandsforjosh.com and by mail at The Joshua Misiewicz Fund, PO Box 284, La Grange, IL 60525.
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