Johnny Mac Foundation honors unsung heroes

Award winners lauded for community service

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Blue Point-based Johnny Mac Foundation, headquartered at the Bayport-Blue Point Library, hosted its 14th “wish gala” on Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Gatsby-fabulous Mansion at Oyster Bay.

A glittering event every year, the gala honors community members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, much like the namesake of the foundation, firefighter and 9/11 cancer victim, John McNamara.

The evening’s honoree were Bayport civic leaders Bob and Janet Draffin, who have headed the local civic organization and accompanying junior civic for over 20 years.

“Janet and I are so very honored and humbled to be recognized for this prestigious award,” said Bob.

“The Johnny Mac Foundation does so many great things in our community, many of which go unrecognized. I personally am so grateful that my inspiration and soulmate, Janet, is being awarded the recognition for all she does for our town. My only regret is that Janet's current state of health precluded her being there to accept this honor, but we greatly appreciate all the kind thoughts and prayers we are receiving for her recovery,” said Bob in his speech.

In addition to the Draffins, Bob Hulse won the Jamie Atkinson award, named after the Sayville Community Ambulance’s local hero and endless volunteer.

A member of the Bay Shore Fire Department, Hulse was absolutely adamant he not be honored. “If it wasn’t for how much Jen [McNamara, founder and president] did for first responder families, I would’ve said ‘no, I’m not taking the award’ because I want everyone else to be honored, not me.”

Atkinson described Hulse as a “dedicated pillar of our community,” who exemplified “unwavering commitment to public safety through his outstanding contributions to the fire and EMS services.”

“His tireless efforts have not only saved lives, but have also strengthened the fabric of our community, leaving an indelible mark of selflessness and service. His exceptional leadership and dedication make him deserving,” said Atkinson.

Hulse was also credited by Atkinson with leading a “vision for the betterment of volunteer fire and EMS services.”

“His initiatives extend beyond the immediate impact of emergency response, focusing on the continuous improvement and support for those who volunteer their time and expertise. His legacy goes beyond individual acts of heroism, reflecting a steadfast dedication to the collective well-being of our community and the continual enhancement of volunteer fire and EMS services,” said Atkinson.