Apropos for Veterans Day, Connected Warriors celebrated 10 years helping active-duty vets and honored a venerated Boca doctor.
Some of Boca’s biggest benefactors turned out for Dr. Ira J. Gelb at Connected Warriors’ Stars of Honor Gala Saturday. Gelb founded the Charles E. Schmidt School of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University. His wife June by his side on stage, he talked about his military service as an Army regimental surgeon.
Known for his sense of humor, honorary chair Pam Polani said she wore a red dress to honor him. Mayor Scott Singer and city council presented a proclamation. FAU president John Kelly praised him in a video.
Connected Warriors started with one yoga class. Taught by founder Judy Weaver, she helped the late Army Ranger Beau MacVane cope with a devastating illness. His parents Sandi and Matt were introduced.
Now CW serves 11,000 active-duty vets with evidenced-based trauma-conscious yoga. Some 1,700 free classes are in 24 states, eight countries. 16 military installations and 35 vet centers, Weaver told the crowd. “We help them navigate through their new normal,” she said.
Instead of a silent auction to raise funds, the gala included a parachute pull for prizes. Emcee and auctioneer Neil Saffer conducted a live auction that included jewelry by Gregory Fried, who was there. A safari offered by former Miss Universe Michelle McLean raised $6,000 for dinner with her instead.
Wearing his full-dress Navy uniform, CW board member retired Lt. Commander Ken Bingham wants vets to know he’s now teaching yoga at 6 p.m. Wednesdays at CW’s Boca headquarters. Bingham retired as head of the NJROTC program at Boca High.
Connected Warriors board member Keith O’Donnell chaired the event and Jan Savarick “helps direct our path,” Weaver said. Army veteran and poet A.S. Minor spoke.
Among the guests were Marilyn and Jay Weinberg, Jerry and Terry Fedele, Edith Stein, Sue and Yaacov Heller, Marilyn and Mark Swillinger, Kim Champion, Doreen and Robert Alrod, Shelly and Arthur Adler, Fran and Dr. Nathan Nachlas, Barbara and Bobby Campbell, Kimberly Wick, Skeets Friedkin and Dr. Ron Rubin.
By Marci Shatzman