During a special Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday, Sam Ladner Memorial VFW Post 4808 in Lakeshore dedicated a new van donated by Silver Slipper Casino for the post’s Van for Vets program.
“We were just thrilled to be able to do this,” Silver Slipper CEO John Ferrucci said Thursday.
Ferrucci said the donation was not “about” the Silver Slipper or himself, but about helping the community and serving Hancock County’s veterans.
Post Cmdr. Chris Cambre said the Van for Vets program started about five years ago, under the leadership of Dan Bilbo, Packer Ladner and Herman Ladner, but the van the post has been using was getting old and had been vandalized.
Post Quartermaster Ray Carver said some post members first approached Ferrucci about putting advertisements for the Silver Slipper on a new van to help pay for it, when Ferrucci surprised them and bought the van for the post.
“Mr. John went way, way beyond our expectations,” Cambre said.
The van is a 2015 Starcraft Wheelchair-accessible vehicle, and volunteers from the Van for Vets program will use it to transport any veterans in Hancock County to their scheduled doctor or hospital appointments, if they have no other means of transportation available.
Carver said in a speech during the ceremony that Veterans Day was established to “honor all veterans who unselfishly put themselves in the line of fire” for their kin and country.
“A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him,” Carver said, “but because he loves that which is behind him.”
However, he said, “You don’t have to join the ranks of our military to defend our freedoms and our way of life,” but you can also do so by supporting your community.
“Today, we’d like to salute one of our community heroes, Mr. John Ferrucci,” he said.
“I know Mr. John said it’s not about him or the Silver Slipper, that it’s about our veterans and taking care of them — but it’s because of his generosity that we can start this program now and not months in the future.”
Ferrucci thanked the post — and Coca Cola, which allowed him to use its promotional funds to purchase the van — as well as the Slipper’s ad agency, the Ad Group, which designed the vehicle’s graphics.
“This was actually a perfect opportunity for us to show our gratitude to the veterans of Hancock County,” Ferrucci said. “This is an opportunity for us to show our appreciation all year long, not just on Nov. 11.”