Proud event for area hero

One of the true shining moments last weekend took place in Brocton as hundreds attended the inaugural Darren Manzella-Lapeira Memorial Fun Walk and 5K Run.

Nationally known as a strong proponent for gays in the military and for taking an active role in getting the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy repealed, Manzella-Lapeira is remembered as a hero and family member in his home.

He was dedicated to the military. Following his service, he continued to work as a crisis counselor for the Canandaigua Veterans Crisis Call Center. Tragically, nearly one year ago, his life ended in a motor-vehicle accident in the Rochester area where he was living. He was 36 years old.

With family and friends on hand Saturday, it was an emotional and fitting tribute to someone who never backed down when it came to a challenge.

“He loved to help people, just like the people that are around helping us today,” said Michael Manzella, his father. “He liked to help veterans of the country, and that was most important to him.”

Dad, mother Nancy Manzella – and the rest of our community – are still proud.