Fundraiser to benefit late firefighter's family

Posted 10/23/19

Friends of the late Johnston Firefighter Richard Gemma are putting together a benefit to raise money for his three surviving children. The event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 9, at The Joint Bar & Grill, located on 1150 Oaklawn Ave., in Cranston,

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Fundraiser to benefit late firefighter's family

Posted

Friends of the late Johnston Firefighter Richard Gemma are putting together a benefit to raise money for his three surviving children. The event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 9, at The Joint Bar & Grill, located on 1150 Oaklawn Ave., in Cranston, from noon to 6 p.m.

This fundraiser is being sponsored jointly by the restaurant and The Bridge at Cherry Hill, located in Johnston. The day will feature food, drinks, raffles including tickets to see the New England Patriots, door prizes, live entertainment provided by local comedians and disk jockeys, and other surprises.

The event is being put together by Jen Burns, sales manager at The Bridge at Cherry Hill, along with Chris Campagone, who works for the city of Cranston, and family friend Jason Laffredo. Burns said there has been an outpouring of support for Gemma. She has already found that Gemma was not only well known in community but would have been taken aback by the amount of support.

“We have been in touch with so many people who knew Richard, and we were surprised when other people said they either knew or worked with him,” said Burns, who said she knew Gemma for many years through a family friend. “He was always doing stuff with his kids, loved traveling to Florida where his brother lives and riding his motorcycle. His loss is really being felt around town.”

Gemma, a Cranston resident who served on the Johnston Fire Department for six years, was on the first day of his two-week vacation when he was killed in a motorcycle accident on Aug. 27. He was 45 years old. According to several news reports, Gemma suffered a traumatic head injury after a crash at the intersection of Belgium Street and Felicia Drive. He was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, where doctors were unable to revive him.

Investigators believe Gemma was traveling north on Belgium Street when his front tire struck the curb on the west side of the road, causing him to veer. Authorities said Gemma tried to break, which caused him to be thrown from the motorcycle.

Born in Providence, he was the son of retired Johnston Battalion Chief Richard L. Gemma and Kathleen (Adamo) Gemma of Johnston; father to Siobhan H. San Antonio, Gianna J. Gemma and Antonio R. Gemma; and the brother of Louis J. Gemma of Englewood, Florida. He graduated from Cranston High School East.

The news hit Campagnone, who grew up hanging out with the Gemma family, hard. He said the family was devoted to making people happy and would do what they could to help people in the community or in their neighborhood.

“His family and I grew up in Cranston, and I went to school with his brother,” he said. “Richard was such a kind-hearted person, always looking for ways of helping others. It was no surprise to anyone who knew him that he would decide to go into public service. He has so many friends, so when word spread about what happened, it left a void in the area to everyone who knew him.”

Burns said they have reached out to police and firefighter stations throughout the state in hopes of gaining their support. She said the police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel are a brotherhood.

That also led to holding this fundraiser in his honor. There will be a 50/50 raffle along with the other entertainers that will be forthcoming. Campagnone and Burns said they are asking the community for support in the form of monetary donations, in-kind services and donations such as gift cards, gift baskets, event tickets and anything else that people would like to be included.

All donations may be left either with Burns at the Bridge at Cherry Hill, 1 Cherry Hill Road, Johnston, or at The Joint Bar & Grill on behalf of Chris Campagnone.

The organizers are also looking for event sponsors that can also donate their time and/or resources. Benefits include being recognized at the event.

There is no charge to attend the event. Burns said a donation box will be stationed at the front door. Also, there will be a free shuttle service from the former Phred’s Pharmacy parking lot. There is no parking available in The 99 Restaurant parking lot. Cars that park there for this event are subject to being towed.

For additional details on the event, including making a donation or becoming a sponsor, contact either Burns at 529-6854 or Campagnone at 263-0657.

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