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February 14, 2013

Harzfest to benefit city charities


Tonawanda News — More than 650 people attended the event last February to help Jim and Susan.

“He said, ‘hopefully we can do this and give back next time,’” Susan said.

Jim passed away in September after a lengthy battle with the disease, but Susan and the rest of the family have carried on with his wish with the planning of Saturday’s event. 

The American Legion Post’s organizers Dennis Smilinich and his wife Jackie both grew up with Nancy Holler’s family in Gastown. The post is constantly donating money to community programs and has donated the space for the event, which will feature music by four different bands, basket raffles, food, beer and pop. 

Craig Matthews of WYRK will be the emcee for the day, as well, and JJ Richert, chef of Torches and Smoke on the Water, has agreed to donate chili. 

Tickets are $20 ahead of time, $25 at the door, $10 for students and children under 10 are free. 

Proceeds from the event will go toward three separate scholarships, the GHH Fund and Jim Harszlak Foundation and the American Legion’s scholarships. 

Don said the GHH Fund Memorial scholarship, worth $1,000, goes to graduating senior from Tonawanda High School who needs assistance with tuition for further education. 

Susan said the scholarship in Jim’s name will be awarded to a Tonawanda senior for the first time this year. 

“He loved music, so we will probably focus on that ... and someone who is active in the community,” Susan said. 

The profits will also go to the three organizations’ other charitable works. The GHH Fund plans to stay involved with the Rockin’ With Santa Toy Drive, the Kids’ Fishing Derby and St. Francis’ work.

And the Jim Harszlak Foundation works to help those in need, especially those facing insurmountable medical bills.

So far, more than 200 tickets have been sold, and Susan and Don said the event will likely serve as a big reunion for the Tonawanda community.

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