Annual Red, White and Blue fundraising barbecue far exceeds financial goal

More than 500 attendees helped Clear Path for Veterans raise in excess of $75,000 at its seventh annual Red, White & Blue Barbecue, well surpassing its goal of $30,000.

“This year’s response signals to me that our community supports our mission and understands their role in supporting the journey home,” said Clear Path for Veterans CEO and Co-Founder Melissa Spicer. “Also, it is an opportunity for us to bring the community onto our campus and to provide them an opportunity to see how their financial support is impacting Veterans.”

That financial support and generosity by the community was evident as more than 35 Veterans attended as special guests via “Sponsor a Vet” tickets that were purchased on their behalf. Additional guests included former Syracuse University’s head football coach and current Jacksonville Jaguars’ Head Coach Doug Marrone and wife Helen; Author and TV Personality Adam Richman; and Myers Jackson, star of DIY Network’s Texas Flip N Move.

Also in attendance was Mark Vigil, father of the late Miles Vigil. Mark “Miles” Vigil was stationed at Fort Drum with the 10th Mountain Division before deployment to Afghanistan on a combat tour as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. After returning home and struggling with severe post-traumatic stress, Miles took his life in late 2010. Since his son’s death, Mark has been on a crusade to raise both money and awareness for military-induced PTSD, suicide and Veterans in general.

Clear Path for Veterans’ annual Miles & Maddy Award recognition is named after Miles Vigil and Maddy Spicer. Maddy was Melissa Spicer’s certified therapy dog, who “healed the souls of many,” Melissa said; Maddy passed away in April 2013. Each year, a civilian and a Veteran are honored for their impactful service above self.

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Nels Youngstrom, who served during the Vietnam War, has been a volunteer dating back to 2013 as one of Clear Path’s original wingmen. He also played a role in mentoring Melissa about “warrior culture.” Youngstrom also spends countless hours volunteering for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing – which is a high-quality, full-spectrum fly fishing program offered to disabled active military service personnel that meets twice a month at Clear Path – and the Marine Corps League Emerald City Detachment.

Accepting the Miles & Maddy Award on Youngstrom’s behalf – as he was in Sweden on a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing expedition – was his wife, Kari.

David Spicer was the recipient of the civilian side of the Miles & Maddy Award. David, husband to Melissa, has quietly volunteered thousands of hours to ensure that Clear Path’s grounds stay beautiful and kept to the highest standard.

“David has also saved Clear Path hundreds of thousands of dollars by volunteering his time and equipment to address building maintenance and grounds issues since 2010,” said Clear Path’s Chief Strategic Officer Earl Fontenot. “David has never asked for recognition and has always quietly taken pride in what we do.”

This year’s barbecue would not have been possible without the support of the following event sponsors: China Towne Furniture and MattressSRC Inc.Sun AutoHospitality Concepts GroupJohnson Estate WineryHancock Estabrook LLPErie Canal Brewing Co.10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co.Cross Creek Nursery and Sno Top Ice Cream of Manlius, Brewery OmmegangFour Roses Bourbon, and Blitman & King LLP.

Next year’s barbecue will be held on June 15, 2019. To sign up for Clear Path’s monthly electronic newsletter to stay informed about upcoming events, visit