Hundreds of patriotic people gathered in one place for one reason Thursday night: to honor and empower wounded warriors. Supporters and warriors came together at the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Courage Awards & Benefit Dinner® at Gotham Hall on May 16 to raise awareness and support for the latest generation of injured veterans.
The night was memorable for many, including wounded warrior Michael Carrasquillo. The Manhattan native was honored with the Courage Award, the pinnacle award of the night given to a warrior who best exemplifies bravery, courage, and strength. Carrasquillo, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, mentors veterans as a WWP Peer Support group leader and helps them in their transitions to civilian life. New York Giants defensive end B.J. Hill presented Carrasquillo – a life-long Giants fan – with the award.
The Service Award was presented to Craig Manske, Steve Grabowski, and Ed Lewandowski. The trio has been instrumental in generating support for WWP in the Chicago area for more than 10 years, specifically in connection with Soldier Ride® Chicago and the Chicago Air and Water Show.
Allcat Claims Service was honored with the Empowerment Award. They’ve raised nearly $1 million for WWP programs and services that empower, employ, and engage warriors in their communities.
“It’s the people that make the Courage Awards & Benefit Dinner special,” said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. “Michael Carrasquillo and our other honored awardees are perfect examples of warriors and supporters who understand our mission and have been selfless in their service to wounded veterans.”
Celebrities also made an impact on the evening. Extra host Mario Lopez hosted the event, and former America’s Got Talent contestant Johnny Manuel performed the national anthem. Other celebrities in attendance included country music performers Luke Pell and The Band Steele. WWE wrestler Dolph Ziggler hosted the WWP Instagram livestream from the red carpet.