Pizza parties are always cause for celebration, but it's the sacrifice Marco Solt made for his country, that packed people into Sammy's Pizza in Brooklyn Park Saturday morning.
"Well, I've had a lot of friends and family in the military overseas, and I've kind of always wanted to do something for the troops," said Joe Perella, the owner of Sammy's Pizza.
For Perella, that "something" is this fundraiser for his former employee, who was overwhelmed by the turnout.
"It's unreal, I mean, you've got people that I've known my whole life," Solt said. "You've got people I've known for short periods of time, and there's people I've never met before. They're all coming out to support."
This past May, Solt lost both legs in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb detonated while he was out looking for IEDs.
Saturday's event provided a fresh start.
"When you're in Afghanistan, you kind of feel like you're alone, you know," Solt added. "You've only got you and your battle buddy. But seeing this, it's just, people care and it's just amazing to see how much support the troops and myself are actually getting."
One person who's lending that support is Aaron Holm, president of Wiggle Your Toes, an organization helps people who have lost their limbs. Holm's organization played a role in organizing Saturday's fundraiser.
"It's gonna be a fresh start for him," Holm said. "He's gonna need a job. He wants to go to school, get an education, so he's gonna need a lot of [support]. And the money that we raised [Saturday] should act as a foundation for that."
That money represents an expression of gratitude that serves as a reminder of the goodness within people's hearts.
"There's American flags, patriot guard outside, fire trucks blocking traffic," Solt said. "You know, people I've never seen before coming out. It's just mind blowing."
Meanwhile, in a couple of weeks, Solt will travel back to Washington, D.C., where he will have about another year's worth of rehab. The money raised at Saturday's event will also help Solt and his wife buy a new house that they can make handicap accessible.
Oct. 29, 2012