Members of the SOS Retail Services team attended the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund gala on Friday night at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, Texas.  The Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund honors military service and sacrifice by providing scholarships to veterans and military family members, particularly the children of our nation’s fallen and disabled.

Peter Dencker, President and CEO of SOS, graduate of West Point and decorated Vietnam veteran, represented SOS as the guest of Joe DePinto, President and CEO of 7-11.  Joining Peter were Eli Lessing, Director of Business Development and Josh Elliott, Vice President of Construction.

On May 18, 2010, Colonel John McHugh, aka Johnny Mac, a father of five, made the ultimate sacrifice for our country while serving in Afghanistan.  The Johnny Mac fund was created in 2014 by his former West Point classmates and friends to give back to those who gave, especially to those who gave their all, like Johnny Mac.

What began as a small effort to help one fallen classmate’s family, quickly grew into a mission to help as many military families as possible.  To date, over $12 million in scholarships have been awarded with over 1,000 Johnny Mac Scholars currently attending schools all over the country.

With over 800 guests dressed in their best finery, the evening began with a presentation of the Colors by the Army ROTC cadets from the University of Texas at Arlington, then the National Anthem was beautifully led by the melodic voice of Maya Delgado. The Blessing was given by Johnny Mac scholar Haley Hartwick, Baylor University class of 2017.

The welcome was given by Joe DePinto, Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund Board of Directors.  And Michael Irvin, retired Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame Wide Receiver and sportscaster, was the Master of Ceremonies. Michael certainly put his best sportscaster voice and skills to good use by rousing the crowd throughout the evening, he was quiet the entertainer!

While the guests dined on a delicious meal, keynote speaker, Paul W. Bucha, recipient of the congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award that can be given to military personnel. Paul inspired the crowd with stories from his time in the service exemplifying the pillars of humanity, leadership, morals, trust, service and honor.  He affirmed that “Courage Never Quits”.

An action-packed live auction was conducted which contributed to the overall success of the evening.

Remarks were given by Wesley Bauguess, an Army veteran, Army spouse and Army widow.  Wesley’s two daughters, Ryann and Ellie, were both Johnny Mac scholars.

The closing address was given by Anthony J. Guzzi, Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund Board of Directors.

The gala was an extraordinary event that not only saluted all soldiers who have sacrificed in one way or another, but also to raise money to encourage all of us to band together and give back.  SOS was honored to attend and contribute as a Service level donor.