Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 25 January 2013 00:00
Following two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, Marine Sgt. Ryan Donnelly, a Purple Heart recipient, was chosen as the winner of the free wedding contest at the Viana Hotel and Spa in Westbury.
Donnelly, who attended Newfield High School in Selden and was the school’s top male athlete in 2002, will exchange vows with fiancée Tina McGrory, a U.S. Army veteran, on March 16.
“The idea of giving back to those who served our country, and fought for us, seemed the right thing to do,” said Frank Frisone, Manager at TD Bank in Westbury and president of the Westbury-Carle Place Chamber of Commerce.
An improvised explosive device (IED) struck Donnelly’s Humvee during his last tour of duty in Iraq in 2005. Following weeks of infection, his right leg was amputated above the knee.
Donnelly, who works in the LI Local 200 Plumber’s Union apprenticeship program, said he enlisted in the Marines to “help preserve the American way of life.”
Donnelly and McGrory will receive a bridal gown, reception for up to 50 people, hotel rooms for the couple and their out of town guests, flowers, DJ, video and photo services and party favors – all free of charge, thanks to the generosity of local sponsors.
Viana Hotel and Spa is an environmentally efficient luxury hotel that opened at 3998 Brush Hollow Road in Westbury in October 2011.
Rafael Encarnacion and Jessica Allain, runner-up winners, will receive a free night and breakfast at the Viana Hotel, among other gifts. Encarnacion, a NYPD officer, served two tours in Iraq and is scheduled to go back for a third. He and his fiancée are expecting their first child.
“Both couples we chose are very deserving. The small community businesses that make up the Westbury-Carle Place Chamber of Commerce were only too happy to take part in furnishing the event,” Frisone added.
This past June, Donnelly and his fiancée were given an affordable home in Lake Ronkonkoma, thanks to Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County and LI Home Builders Care Development Corp.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said he was honored “to give back to our military community and to help one lucky couple start their lives together in a very special way.”