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District 751 Machinists raise $299,000 for Guide Dogs of America; union president honored

Tom Wroblewski, right, receives a Gift of Sight award from Machinists Union International President Tom Buffenbarger at the 2012 Guide Dogs of America charity banquet. - Courtesy photo
Tom Wroblewski, right, receives a Gift of Sight award from Machinists Union International President Tom Buffenbarger at the 2012 Guide Dogs of America charity banquet.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Machinists Union District Lodge 751 raised nearly $299,000 for Guide Dogs of America in 2012.

District President Tom Wroblewski presented the California-based charity with a check for $298,949.66 at the annual Guide Dogs Banquet Nov. 17 in Las Vegas.

In addition, Wroblewski, who is a Kent resident, was honored at the banquet and presented with a 2012 "Gift of Sight" award recognizing his efforts on behalf of the organization.

"It is an honor to lead a district with so many selfless individuals," Wroblewski said. "Barely a week goes by that someone isn't giving their own time to support an event for Guide Dogs of America."

The $299,000 donation represents a one-year fundraising total for District 751, which is Guide Dogs of America's top fund-raiser across North America.

The union raised the money through voluntary payroll deductions and through community fundraisers that included a drag-racing event co-sponsored with Pacific Raceways in Kent. Other events included a benefit poker tournament, a golf tournament, a fun run, a car show, a horseshoes tournament, a motorcycle poker run and prize drawings.

Wroblewski has "displayed extraordinary loyalty to the mission of Guide Dogs of America," said International President Tom Buffenbarger of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, who presented the Gift of Sight award to Wroblewski.

Over the past four years, with Wroblewski as president, District 751 has raised more than $1 million for Guide Dogs of America. The organization used that money to breed, raise and train 24 guide dogs, to be paired with people from across North America who are blind or have impaired vision.

"At 751, before the last event of the year is completed, it's only a matter of days before the next one is in the planning stages," Wroblewski said as he accepted the award.

He said one of the highlights of his involvement with Guide Dogs of America came in 2010, when he attended the graduation ceremony for Dennis Meech and his guide dog, Lefty.

Meech is a District 751 Machinist from Goldendale, who was blinded in a motorcycle accident on his way home from work in August 2007.

"I got to see first-hand the joy our member had upon gaining back his freedom after receiving a guide dog," Wroblewski said. "It was a great day, and a moment I will never forget."

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