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Benefit to Aid Firefighters' Families

Every year, for six straight, Bob LeRose plays host to a benefit for the Westport Firefighters Benevolent Fund. He doesn't get involved with where they send the money, he just helps them collect it.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to LeRose to learn that this year the firefighter's wouldn't donate the money to a burn camp as they usually do. Instead, all of the proceeds will go to the families of Bridgeport firefighters Lt. Steven Velasquez and Michel Baik. LeRose sat in the bar at his restaurant, Bobby Q's, and nodded while hearing the news. “Perfect, that's great,” he said.

The announcement came out less than an hour earlier, and he hadn't seen the release. In it, Assistant Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury said, “It's a fun night with great food and music, and a terrific way for our residents to support the Bridgeport Fire Department in their time of loss. The fire service is a family and we've just lost two of our own.”

The two Bridgeport firefighters died in an Elmwood Avenue house fire on July 24 while on the third floor of the home. An investigation is still ongoing into the cause of deaths and how they ended up in a mayday situation after the fire appeared to be under control.

Most years, the annual fundraiser brings in about $3,000 according to LeRose. He tries to make sure at least $1,500 makes it way to the firefighters. He said it is just part of being the community as far as he is concerned and it makes him happy to help, “especially with the money going to those families.”

The idea for the six-year running annual benefit wasn't actually his. LeRose was approached by Frank Bergonzi, vocalist for the Bruce Springsteen tribute band, “Lost in the Flood.” Bergonzi is the driving force behind making the night happen every year, and LeRose wants to make sure that credit is given where it is due. “It's his baby and we're just the vehicle,” said LeRose.

The benefit will take place on the rooftop bar at Bobby Q's, 42 Main St., Westport, Saturday, Aug. 7,starting at 9 p.m. There will be a $10 cover charge that goes to the firefighters, as well as a portion of the proceeds from drink specials. Lost in the Flood will perform.

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