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Funds raised in soldier’s honor

Community: Proceeds from barbecue to go to scholarship named after Army Sgt. Ian T.D. Gelig, who die

Posted: October 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.

A scholarship set up in honor of fallen Army paratrooper Sgt. Ian T.D. Gelig saw its first inaugural barbecue fundraiser Sunday with organizers hoping the event becomes an annual one honoring local men and women who died serving their country.

About 50 people enjoyed a rib dinner with mashed potatoes and vegetables inside the Newhall American Legion Post 507 on Spruce Street in Newhall on Sunday, taking part in silent auctions, raffles and games to raise money for the scholarship.

Gelig, 25, of Stevenson Ranch, was killed on March 1 when a roadside bomb exploded near the vehicle he was riding in while on patrol in southern Afghanistan.

The scholarship set up in his name started with Fred Arnold, who worked with others to organize Gelig’s funeral procession and then found themselves wanting to do more for the Gelig family and other military families struggling with loss.

“We wanted to do something that would continue to memorialize the young men and woman who have died in the more recent wars,” Arnold told The Signal inside the legion hall Sunday.

“Because we realized how much it would mean to the families,” he said. “We came up with the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce Ian Gelig Scholarship  Award because the chamber wanted to get involved.”

It was Arnold who had approached the local chamber of Commerce about the scholarship, but it was his meeting with the parents of Lance Cpl. Richard Slocum, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, that moved him to action — first with efforts to organize the Gelig funeral procession, then with the scholarship.

Arnold said he felt embarrassed when he met the Slocums not knowing about their son’s sacrifice.

“I was so embarrassed as someone who (supposedly) knew quite a bit about the community, and I didn’t know the kids who passed in our city from the recent wars,” he said. “I vowed if it ever happened again that we would do something to show respect and honor to those individuals, and that’s when we came up with the funeral procession and the scholarship.”

Arnold said Gelig’s mother, Delia, told him she was so honored about the scholarship because, as she reportedly explained, “Ian was really looking forward to going back to college.”

Gelig’s father, Tim, said he was deeply touched by Sunday’s outpouring of honor and tribute.

“I feel very honored by this and, at the same time, thinking about the death of my son,” he said, stopping short.

But, Gelig wasn’t the only parent present Sunday, confronting the tragedy of his child’s death while appreciating the tribute paid by the community for that sacrifice.

Dante Acosta was among those who came by to show his support for the sponsorship.

“We’re sad to be here, but we’re also proud to be here,” he said.

U.S. Army Spc. Rudy A. Acosta, from Canyon Country, died March 19 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. He was 19.

Proceeds from Sunday’s barbecue go to benefit the first ever $500 Ian Gelig Memorial Scholarship offered to local veterans or their immediate family members.

Another fundraiser for the Gelig scholarship is scheduled for Nov. 3 at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.


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