HILLCREST, NY – A Lisle family is thankful to the local military community and its supporters for coming to their aid following a horrific accident over the summer.

Blake Stanton and his teenage son Drew were burning leaves using gasoline last July when their fire pit exploded in flames.

Blake suffered burns across sixty-nine percent of his body, Drew thirty-two percent.

Blake is a former Marine and National Guardsman who has not been able to work as a mason since the accident.

And the medical bills for both are staggering.

When Hugh Becker of the local chapter of the organization Soldier’s Wish heard about the family’s plight, he worked with other local veteran groups to host a spaghetti dinner benefit for the Stanton family.

“We are just so proud to be able to support this military family. A lot of people think that we at the American Legion just sit around and drink cheap drinks. And yes we do that. But our primary mission is to take care of the one percent of the population that raise their right hand and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,” he says.

The October benefit took place at American Legion Post 80 in Binghamton and was supported by Legion Post 1194, VFW Post 478, the Marine Corps League and Soldier’s Wish.

Soldier’s Wish is similar to Make-A-Wish in that it grants wishes to active duty military and veteran families in need.

“Once you’re in the military and you go to a military establishment, you’re like a brother. It doesn’t matter what branch you were in, it’s a nice brotherhood,” Stanton said.

The benefit, which included 100 raffle baskets and a deejay, raised $12,000 for the Stantons to help them pay their bills.

Blake spent eight weeks in the ICU and burn units at Upstate Medical in Syracuse while Drew spent four weeks at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse.

Blake’s wife Melissa was forced to split her time between both.

She says support from family and friends was to be expected, but not complete strangers.

“When people are sending checks and giving you money from places you don’t know, people you don’t know, it’s very humbling and heartfelt. And like Blake and Hugh both said, our military community here is very strong and we’ve seen that. They’ve come out in droves to help us in any way,” she says.

Melissa says Blake still has a long road to recovery.

He’s in constant pain and not sure if he’ll be able to work again.

If you would like to support the Stantons or Soldier’s Wish and want the contribution to remain local, email the Upstate Ambassador at RobertBecker428@gmail.com.