On October 24, 2013, Brielle Bellew, 14, of Pearl River, spoke at the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund’s 28th Annual Gala at The Waldorf Astoria. Brielle attended the event with her mother and three siblings and highlighted the gala by reading a special letter, a moving tribute to her father FDNY Firefighter John G. Bellew who died in the line of duty in 2005. The gala raised over $2.4 million with 800 guests in attendance. Honorees for the evening included Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who received a Special Civic Leadership Award and NYSE Euronext and its Fallen Heroes Fund.
Brielle Bellew was 6-years-old when she lost her father. Following is an excerpt from Brielle’s letter to her dad: “You left for work one morning and as always we thought you would return home, instead you were taken from us too soon. Therefore, you and mom couldn’t do all of the things you planned to do with us…I wish you had been here to put me on the bus for all the first days of school…I wish you could’ve helped me with all my homework and school work…I wish you could’ve seen me water skiing just like you…I wish you were there to shovel with me on snow days and then drink hot chocolate…I wish you could’ve been there when I discovered my love of cheerleading and watched me cheer at competitions…Most of all I wish you were here to hug and kiss me good night, and always assure me things would be alright…I know you would’ve loved to have been here to see all of these things. Don’t be sad Dad. In a way I’ll never understand how you have taught me so much even though you are not here. You have made me into the person I am today. Your bravery has taught me to be fearless and take advantage of every opportunity life grants me…Your great sacrifice taught me selflessness and to be a team player, always putting others before myself. The compassion and love you had for others made me a caring individual who always puts my family first in life. All your great traits are evident in us kids in some way or another. We wouldn’t be the people we are now if it weren’t for you.”
Guests in attendance at the gala included: NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly; FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano; Superintendent of PAPD Michael Fedorko; Benefit Fund Founder Rusty Staub; Benefit Fund Board Member Mark Messier; Honorary Chairs Al Roker, Deborah Roberts and Gloria Reuben, and Benefit Fund Chairman Stephen J. Dannhauser.
The evening was highlighted by live performances by actress and singer Gloria Reuben and Amanda Lupo, granddaughter of a fallen NYPD Police Officer, who sang the National Anthem and an auction of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Colorguard and Bagpipers of the NYPD, FDNY and PAPD entered the gala with a moving procession.
The New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund provides assistance to the families of New York City Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Port Authority Police and EMS Personnel who have been killed in the line of duty. Since its inception in 1985 by baseball great Daniel J. “Rusty” Staub, the charity has distributed over $126 million to hundreds of families.