By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- Life can change in an instant.
It’s a lesson local father Steve Ferrante knows all too well.
With four Windham families coping with the unexpected death of a father over this past year, Ferrante and his five friends immediately knew they wanted to help out. Ferrante said he was particularly affected by the untimely death of one close friend, a young father who lived nearby. Knowing that three other families in town were coping with similar losses, Ferrante and friends Chris Williamson, Yori Kasprzak, Tom Langlois, Chris Marotta and Joe O’Connor, soon began meeting on a regular basis.
What began as plans for a memorial benefit for one soon grew into a giving fellowship of many: a group of local friends with the common goal of helping the loved ones who’ve been left behind.
“We’re just Windham dads trying to help families of other Windham dads, because they sadly can no longer provide themselves,” Ferrante said last week. “In all cases these fathers have left a wife and children behind. In their absence, household incomes have become compromised and these families are now faced with new challenges.”
With that in mind, the group members soon had an “official” name, A Dad’s Promise. The nonprofit group, whose name was inspired by a Steven Mattes poem of the same name, will host its first ever benefit event at the Castleton next month.
A Dad’s Promise launched its website around six weeks ago, and so far, responses have been overwhelming, Ferrante said. Williamson spearheaded the effort to bring the group of friends together, determining what could be done to best assist the families in need.
“I felt like we should do something, and after talking with the rest of the guys we decided on this event,” he said. “It’s something positive, a way to try and help families negatively impacted this past year.”
“We want the event to be fun,” Ferrante noted. “Not a memorial service or wake, but a chance for folks to enjoy a full evening out for a great cause.”
Set for Feb. 5, the benefit event will feature a full meal of hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dessert, a comedy show starring Boston comedian Stephen Bjork, a disc jockey, dancing, raffles and a silent auction, with tickets priced at $75 per person. A cash bar will also be featured.
All net proceeds will benefit local families in need.
As of Thursday evening, around 350 tickets had been sold, Ferrante said, though he’s hoping to ultimately meet his goal of 500 tickets.
So far, raffle and auction items include merchandise from Daddy’s Junky Music stores, Boston Red Sox tickets and an electric guitar autographed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
Many local businesses have stepped up to assist in donating auction items, including The Windham Restaurant, Delahunty’s Nursery, The Lobster Tail Restaurant, Prime Butcher and the Windham Country Club.
However, more auction items would certainly be welcomed, Marotta said. “Anything of value that a business could donate — a product or a service — is welcomed and greatly appreciated.”
Those wishing to donate auction and raffle items may contact A Dad’s Promise via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information or to purchase tickets for the Feb. 5 event, visit www.adadspromise.org.