The dance music reverberated through Cannon's Blackthorn in Rockville Centre on a bustling Sunday evening, as hundreds of people milled about and socialized.
Then the music stopped and the bar grew quiet. All eyes turned to Rockville Centre resident Martin Brull, who grabbed the microphone and thanked everyone for attending the night's event, a fundraiser for Camp Anchor, the proceeds of which were earmarked for a new building and scholarship fund dedicated to three counselors — sisters Paige and Jamie Malone and Michael Mulhall — who were killed in a car accident on July 15.
"We're very overwhelmed by the response we've had for this event," said Brull, whose brother, Tommy, a counselor at Camp Anchor, died 10 years ago in an accident. In the aftermath of his brother's death, Brull and others launched the Tommy Brull Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps those with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.
Tommy, along with Martin and their sister, Lauren, grew up working at Camp Anchor, which serves children and adults with special needs. When Martin heard about the counselors' deaths, it hit very close to home, he said.
"When we heard what happened that morning, it hit me and my family on many different levels," he told the crowd. "We felt like we had to do something because it hit us so hard."
Some 400 people attended the event, including Anchor staff and volunteers and friends and relatives of the Malones and Mulhalls. The fundraiser was one of several in the past few weeks launched by local business owners and organizations in the aftermath of the tragedy, raising money for the camp's building fund — it is in need of a new facility to meet the growing number of campers, services and activities — and a scholarship fund created in memory of Mulhall and the Malone sisters.
"I knew it would be a big reaction, and this was felt by everybody," Brull said.
The Tommy Brull Foundation raised $16,000 at Cannon's for the camp's building fund and an additional $1,000 through T-shirt sales for the scholarship fund, while a fundraiser at Coyote Grill in Island Park on July 29 raised $6,000 for the camp.