All for the kids: Space and Aviation Day raises $40,000 to help the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead
  • 103rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Space and Aviation Day is still flying high after 11 years of raising awareness and charitable contributions for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn. This year's event kicked off August 14, 2010, by foot as Space Race runners made their way across the tarmac catching a glimpse of various aircraft chalked and posed against the Bradley Air National Guard Base backdrop in East Granby, Conn. Some ran to stay in shape, some ran for fun, but all ran to help the children at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

From the base, the runners headed out to the New England Air Museum and the Connecticut Fire Academy and then back to Bradley to the Hole in the Walls Gang's mini-camp for the finish. While not a photo-finish, the clear winner of the race was Dylan Hammerman from Windsor, Conn.--and the camp.

Bradley Family Day, Inc., the non-profit group that coordinates the event, raised $40,000 to give critically ill children a camp experience in Ashford, said Carmela Alberti, vice president for Bradley Family Day.

"Over the past 10 years, Bradley Family Day's fundraising efforts, including our annual Space and Aviation Day, has helped send 200 children to camp," said Alberti.

"This summer at Camp has been one of our most successful to date thanks in large part to community events like Space and Aviation Day. The dedication of the Bradley Family Day leadership makes an incredible impact on each child that experiences the transformational programs of Camp," said Mike Smiles, chief development officer for the camp.

"We had record crowds turn out at the 11th Annual Space and Aviation Day," said Alberti.
More than 4,500 people walked through the gates of Bradley and the New England Air Museum to get up close and personal with aircraft and pilots. Among the aircraft present was a B-52 from the 2nd Bomb Wing that opened its doors for people to crawl inside and grab the yolk.

"As soon as we got here, everybody came out to the aircraft and wanted to take a look at it, and everybody's been very hospitable," said Staff Sgt. Wesley Cantrell, a crew chief with the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing.

In addition to the arts and crafts, live performance by the Screaming Eagles band and the aircraft, children were able to make and launch water-bottle rockets and learn how to borescope engines at the New England Air Museum. Participants even got to see a live fire-fighting demonstration at the CT Fire Academy.

"One of the highlights of the day was seeing an aerobatic biplane perform a smoke stunt on the ramp," said Alberti.

Along with the B-52 and a Pitts Model 12 stunt plane, the event also included a C-21, F15 and FedEx A310 as well as Homeland Security, Army Chinook, Army Black Hawk and Life Star Helicopters.

"It's a good cause," said Greg Fani, a flight respiratory therapist for Life Star. Being a non-profit that benefits the community, Fani said he likes to go to events like Space and Aviation Day to educate the public about what Life Star does besides stopping traffic on the highway.

All-in-all, the success of Space and Aviation Day is a win-win for everyone involved. The masses that walk through the gate get a fun-filled afternoon, the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp raises funds and awareness for its mission to support children with serious illnesses and aviators get a chance to show off their planes.

"We've generated a lot of interest and hopefully that will continue in the future," said Maj. David Grant, chief of training, 118th Airlift Squadron.

For more information regarding the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, please visit their website at and, while on the internet, swing by Bradley Family day's website, to learn more about what they do to help the camp.