Middletown, N.J. – Lieutenant Dennis W. Zilinski II was deployed to Iraq on September 17, 2005 and was tragically killed two months later on November 19 when an improvised device detonated near his vehicle in Bayji, Iraq. The son of a Vietnam War veteran, Zilinski graduated from Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, and the United States Military Academy at West Point.
To continue to honor his legacy as a hero, the Middletown Reformed Church hosts a fundraising barbecue every summer to generate funds for college scholarships. This year, the barbecue will be held on Sunday, July 23 from 12-2 p.m. on the grounds on the Middletown Reformed Church, 121 Kings Highway, Middletown, N.J. The public is invited, and the event will be held rain or shine under tents. The barbecue includes delicious homemade summer salads, grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, fried chicken, sliced pork, watermelon and more. A free-will offering will be collected and will fund the scholarships.
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Beverly Bova Scarano, an active church member and a very close friend of Dennis’ parents, Marion and Dennis Zilinski Sr., explained that scholarships were instituted in Dennis’ name to honor his character. “We feel strongly about Dennis and the way he lived his life and believe the story is worth telling,” Bova Scarano said. She noted that the 12 college students chosen to receive scholarships have all maintained close ties to the church despite being busy or away at college. In fact, recipients must be active or former members of the Youth Group. Scholarships will be presented to Rileigh Barradale, Izaak Thorpe, Jacie Thorpe, Brooke Levens, Kaitlyn Hennessey, Elaina Oakley, Kelly Ehrlich, Hayley Ehrlich, Tyler Ehrlich, Matthew Generoso, Christina Generoso, and Owen Larson.
There will be a special guest at the event, Reverend George “The Shoeman” Hutchings, from Saint Louis, Missouri, who will speak about his work collecting shoes to fund his missionary work providing clean water for villages in Kenya. Guests are encouraged to bring any type of old or new shoe, work boots, high heels, flip flops, etc., to be donated. Shoe collection will continue throughout the month of December 2017.
For more information on the event, contact Beverly Bova Scarano at (908)-896-1682.