CAPE COD TIMES....August 22,
when Cynthia DesLauriers became the first Cape Cod mother to lose a son
in the war against terrorism, she's gone through many phases.
I'll never be anything but OK. I'll never be the same person I was," she
said yesterday, as more than 150 people ran nine miles along the Cape
Cod Canal to raise money to send care packages to troops in Afghanistan.
25-year-old son, Mark Vecchione, was killed when he jumped from his tank
and fell on an improvised explosive device in Iraq.
through a phase when I couldn't look at a father and a baby together,"
she said. During
another phase, she stared longingly at the realistic baby dolls in
stores and thought of buying one.
thought they'd put me away if I did that," she said.
some of Vecchione's civilian clothes. His after-shave "is my
aromatherapy," the Eastham woman said.
Vecchione's death, six men and one woman with Cape ties have also died
in the war.
their family members attended the second annual Canal Walk/Run for the
Troops yesterday morning.
was expected to raise $10,000 for Cape Cod Cares for Our Troops, whose
founder, Dylan DeSilva, 17, is about to enter a new phase in his young
teenager started the organization when he was 12 years old and has since
mobilized hundreds of volunteers and sent about 8,100 care packages to
troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
he rose at 4:30 a.m. to help his mother, Michelle, get ready for the
Next year at
this time, DeSilva expects to be in Parris Island, S.C., in basic
training for the Marines.
I started the Care for the Troops thing, I've always wanted to join the
military," said DeSilva, who will be a senior concentrating on auto body
work at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich.
grandfathers both served, but he seems self-motivated to help soldiers
in combat and to become a Marine himself.
At age 12,
he sat outside a Kmart at Christmastime and collected enough money and
donations to send six care packages overseas, he said.
"We got so
many letters back saying how much they appreciated them," he
thousand packages and thousands of dollars later, the letters keep
coming, giving DeSilva and adults who help him an up-close perspective
on how lonely and lacking in clean socks, bug spray and gummy worms the
young soldiers are.
"My son was
in Afghanistan in 2007, and he got a package from Dylan," said Tom
Lynch, of Sandwich. "He told me, 'This kid really knows what he's
learned from experience that certain items like candy, chips, coffee,
T-shirts, socks and magazines are craved in Afghanistan's remote
military bases. Soldiers can go without showers, decent food and even
medical treatment for weeks, he said. So DeSilva
adds to the packages several handwritten letters from schoolchildren for
an emotionally nutritious punch.
getting a care package from a perfect stranger, and a young one at that,
it's overwhelming," Lynch said.
Not only did
yesterday's event raise money for November's ambitious mailing of 1,500
Christmas care packages, which will cost about $40,000, Michelle DeSilva
said, but it was an event that allows Gold Star families to be together,
Lynch said. Relatives of
nearly all of the fallen Cape soldiers attended yesterday, including
Cindy and Ken Jones of Mashpee, who lost their son, Eric Jones, in
October. They formed
their own organization, Heroes in Transition, to help disabled veterans
and support military families.
— who has volunteered at every Dylan DeSilva-planned event — said he's
"stunned by everything about military families."
Star families are thanking us, and they have sacrificed their sons and
daughters for us," Lambrou said.