Valpak of Western Massachusetts Steps Up for a Fallen Soldier
Valpak of Western Massachusetts has strong ties to its local community and was among the many local businesses who donated goods, services and funds to provide a fitting tribute for a fallen soldier, Thomas J. Sullivan.
Born and raised in Springfield, MA, Gunnery Sgt. Sullivan was one of four marines and a navy sailor who were killed in a domestic terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16. In his tight-knit community, the Springfield mayor’s office enlisted the help of franchisee Fred Steinman, Valpak of Western Massachusetts, to help garner local business support to provide a private reception on July 27 for more than 1,000 marines and military officials who came to honor the life and service of Tommy Sullivan.
For Fred Steinman, there was no hesitation to act. He immediately contacted his fellow business owners and facilitated the donation of all the food for the event. Fred explained, “The mayor, Dominic Samo, wanted to make sure all the military personnel who were coming to Springfield would be taken care of so my team and I immediately began making phone calls. Within 30 minutes, we were able to secure a commitment of enough hot dogs, hamburgers, buns and condiments to feed the more than one thousand people who came to honor our hometown hero.”
In a personal letter of thanks from Judith Matt, president of Spirit of Springfield who helped organize the reception, she wrote, “It is a comfort to know that you and Valpak of Western Mass are there when needed to help support the city of Springfield not only in good times, but tragedy.”
Sullivan was 40 years old and had served 18 years in the Marine Corps, completed two tours of duty in Iraq, and earned a number of awards and commendations including two Purple Hearts. Remembered not only for his career of service to his country, Sullivan will be forever honored as a hero in his final moments. According to Massachusetts State Sen. James Welch, when the attack in Chattanooga happened, Sullivan ran back toward to the gunfire to save wounded colleagues rather than seek safety for himself.
When asked about the experience, Fred said, “It’s hard to express the emotions of being involved in something like this, but I feel honored that my team and I were able to help in any way we could. In the days following the funeral and reception, the local newspaper, the Springfield Republican, ran a full page ad to acknowledge all the local businesses and individuals who helped in the effort. To see Valpak of Western Mass among the list of contributors made me feel incredibly proud.”