Following the loss on January 16 of long-time Oneonta community member and West Oneonta volunteer fire fighter Wayne Balnis Jr. who contributed over 20 years to the fire company, a fundraising event, the "Wayne Balnis Jr. Memorial Chicken BBQ" was held in his memory at Sloan's NY Grill on Chestnut St. in Oneonta.

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Sloan's NY Grill owner Chris Sloan closed his restaurant on May 23 so that his staff could participate in the fundraiser since Wayne's daughter Caryn and wife Carla both work at Sloan's and needless to say, Wayne spent a lot of time at the restaurant and was well liked by all.

The fundraiser which featured West Oneonta Fire Dept. barbecued chicken, music and fun was a huge success with chicken selling out. The end result was that on Sunday, May 23rd, which also would have been Carla and Wayne's 29th wedding anniversary, the event raised almost $12,000 with a portion going to the West Oneonta Fire Dept. and another amount for the American Heart Association.

Yesterday, Carla and Caryn, along with several Sloan's NY Grill staff members, presented a check for $6,710 to Christine Kisiel from the Utica office of the American Heart Association (photo above)

Carla Balnis says, "I am so incredibly proud of my daughter, and my Sloan’s Family. Sloan's NY Grill, West Oneonta Fire Dept., and this entire community made this all possible - 'It takes a Village'."

It sure is amazing what great things happen when a group of people come together with the same mission - to help others!

Credit: TSM Oneonta

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