By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge — Visitation Academy students baked cakes, cookies, muffins, and brownies but didn’t gain a pound eating them. They sold the goodies for a good cause.
Eighth graders at the Catholic girls’ school at 8902 Ridge Boulevard organized a Bake Sale and dedicated the sale to an American hero, U.S. Army Private Bryan Dilberian, 26, who lost both of his legs and his left arm in an explosion while serving in the war in Iraq on July 1, 2011. Dilberian, a 26-year-old Fort Hamilton High School graduate, is currently undergoing rehabilitation and physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.
“We wanted to do this because he’s a local man. He’s so brave to want to fight for our country,” said Nora Bauso, who baked a batch of brownies for the sale, which took place at the school on Valentine’s Day.
The proceeds from the bake sale will be donated to the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation, a charity created in the name of a firefighter killed on Sept. 11, 2001. The foundation is raising money to purchase and renovate a home for Dilberian to live in. The home would require extensive renovation in order to accommodate Dilberian’s wheelchair, according to Jack Malone, a Bay Ridge man organizing the local end of the foundation’s fundraising effort.
“It’s going to take a lot of money, but every single dollar counts,” Malone said.
The students jumped at the chance to contribute to the effort to get a new home for the soldier, said Visitation Academy Principal Arlene Figaro. “They understand how important this is,” she said.
“We want to raise $1,000. Even if it’s just enough to buy a refrigerator for him, we will feel like we made a contribution to this important effort,” Figaro said.
Firefighters from Engine Co. 241 came to the school on Bake Sale day to lend their support. The firefighters had fun showing a group of first graders their engine truck and ladder.
Sgt. Maj. Sylvia Laughlin, the highest ranking uniformed soldier at the Fort Hamilton Army Base, came to the school to wish the students luck with the sale. “It means a lot to those of us in the military that the community is standing up for one of our guys. We feel like we are part of the community,” she said.
The girls gave Laughlin a box filled with cookies and muffins for free. She reluctantly accepted. She apparently wanted to pay for the treats.
In addition to the Visitation Academy bake sale, the local fundraising effort for the home for Dilberian also consists of donations from businesses, Malone said. “I put a collection box in a lot of stores. The merchants are putting them on the counter so that their customers can make a donation,” he said.
A location for the soldier’s home has not been found, Malone said. “I know they were looking in Gerritsen Beach. It would be good if it could be someplace in Brooklyn. He’s from here,” Malone said.