During the holidays, there’s no place like home.
But for the Fields-Hennessey family of Wynmoor Drive in Cicero, home is but a memory; theirs was destroyed in a devastating fire.
The blaze broke out shortly after the family had gone to bed the night of Oct. 4. They were alerted to the conflagration by neighbors, who happened to see the flames through their back door, and banged on the Hennesseys’ door to wake them and get them out of the house. Maryann Fields and her daughter Marisa Falgiatano escaped without injury, but Fields’ husband David Hennessey suffered burns to his hands, and his son Connor suffered severe cuts to his hands and arms when he had to break through his bedroom window to escape. A family friend was also injured in the fire.
Fortunately, all are recovering, but the house is a total loss. The family is currently renting a house in Cicero. They’re not sure if they’ll rebuild their home on Wynmoor Drive.
“When people look ask what it’s like, I tell them this: tomorrow morning, get up. Don’t put on your clothes. Don’t put on your shoes. Grab your coffee cup, go outside and start your day like that. That’s what it’s like for them. They didn’t even have any clothes — it was the middle of the night. They just ran out with what was on their backs,” said friend Bill Pufky. “I’m just dumbfounded.”
In order to help the family, Pufky and another friend, Ron Golembeski, are chairing a benefit, along with several other neighbors, which will take place this weekend at the Cicero American Legion. The event, which features live music from The Blacklites and Rhythm Method, will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. at the legion, 5575 Legionnaires Drive, Cicero. About 20 to 30 gift baskets will be raffled off, and a 50/50 raffle will be conducted. Presale admission is $15; tickets are also for sale at the door for $20 (kids 12 and under are free).
This weekend’s benefit came from a desire to help people who have spent their entire adult lives helping others, Pufky said.
“They’re really great people,” Pufky said. “We wanted to do something for them.”
Maryann Fields, a trauma nurse, oversees the trauma center and heliport at Golisano Children’s Center. She also spent two years at the Clark Burn Center. She is the regional trauma program manager, chair of CNY Regional Trauma Advisory Committee (CNY RTAC); member of both the Regional Emergency Medical Advisory Committee (REMAC) and NYS State Trauma Advisory Committee (NYS STAC). She’s also started a number of educational programs for the community and health professionals, including the ski helmet program and the Annual Trauma Conference.
David Hennessey, meanwhile, retired from the Manlius, Syracuse and Oneida Nation police departments. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Iraq and Operation Ahuas Tara in Honduras. He currently volunteers his time as a driver for the Veterans Administration transporting vets to medical appointments.
“They’re the kind of people that, they meet you once, and they’re there for you forever,” he said. “They’re very giving.”
In addition to Pufky, Golembeski and several other friends, as well as the Cicero Fire Department and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, the benefit is coming together with the aid of a number of businesses in the Cicero area.
“Subway is helping us out by giving us a huge deal on snack-size subs. We’re doing cold food so we don’t have to worry about permits and all that,” Pufky said. “Deli-Boy is doing salads and pasta and stuff. Frito-Lay is gifting us a bunch of stuff. The bands are volunteering their time, but we’re renting the hall and paying for the lights and sound and everything.”
Pufky said the benefit is still in need of baked goods, homemade or otherwise.
“If people want to bring in store-bought stuff, we’ll be happy to have that,” he said. “We’re looking to serve up to 500 people, so we’re hoping we’ll have enough food.”
To donate or volunteer for the event, email WynmoorFireRelief@gmail.com or call Lisa at 698-0714. The benefit also has a Facebook page (Facebook.com/WynmoorFireRelief) and is accepting donations via PayPal.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.