Get to know... Staples High School junior Dylan Mace
Updated 5:18 pm, Friday, November 17, 2017
WESTPORT — Though they lived across the country from one another, Dylan Mace and his grandfather, Bernie, were extremely close.
“I didn’t get to see him as much as I wanted to. But we would try to fly out every couple months. We were definitely very close,” Mace, a 16-year-old Staples High School junior, said on Wednesday.
That’s why, when his grandfather passed away this past August, Mace wanted to do something to honor his memory.
Dylan’s grandfather was a pharmacist who served in the Korean War as part of the United States Special Forces.
“He would go and jump out of planes and help the people in the field,” Mace said. “He would tell stories about it and I was always really interested.
To contribute to Dylan’s project, visit gofundme.com/vfw-help
“One of the things my father was most proud of and spoke of often was his family’s service to this country,” said Mace’s mother, Rebecca. “We spoke a lot about what he could do and decided to contact our local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) branch.”
Mace — who plays hockey at Staples and wants to be a computer programmer — and his parents spoke to Bernie Rombout, commander of VFW 399, to find out what, if anything, they could do to help local veterans.
According to Rombout, the aging VFW building — constructed in 1964 with narrow entrances to its bathrooms, well before the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted — on Riverside Avenue is in desperate need of a handicapped stall.
“We were amazed that they didn’t have one already,” Rebecca Mace said. ”The building is older, so it is technically compliant with code, but what a disappointment to all our vets that need handicapped facilities.”
Mace and his family worked to get estimates on the project and determined that it would require between $8,000 and $10,000 to draw up plans, apply for a building permit with the town and build the stall.
To raise funds, Mace started a GoFundMe page on Oct. 30, which has raised $6,843 of its $10,000 goal, as of Nov. 16.
“Everyone’s been super kind. It shows how much people actually do care about the veterans. I’m glad we can help them,” Dylan Mace said.
“We’re all cheering and just the fact that we got so much in just two or three weeks shows how much people are willing to accommodate the veterans,” Rombout said. “I’m just in awe.”
Two tradesmen have offered to volunteer their services to help see the project built, Mace said, though he is still looking for a plumber to aid in the installation.
Because of the amount of money raised, Mace believes he’ll be able to start the permitting process in the coming weeks.
“We want to get the bathroom set up and if we have any extra money leftover we want to do some minor things with the VFW, make it more of a place that younger members want to go as well,” Mace said.
“I really wanted to raise awareness for it and make sure everyone knows that it’s a place they can go, not only to get a meal, but also to talk to other people that have been through the same things they have. Or just go for a nice night out with people who are like you.”