Dozens of motorcycle enthusiasts will take to the road together on Saturday, May 20 to celebrate the life of Todd James “TJ” Lobraico, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on September 5, 2013. Organizer of the event, Doug DiSarro, explained that each year he chooses Armed Forces Day for this event, in support of all the nation’s servicemembers, though it is specifically held to remember TJ and help fundraise for the scholarship that is given to local students in his name.
Anyone who has lived in town for more than a decade would remember the outpouring of emotion, compassion, and support that was felt in New Fairfield and Sherman at the time of TJ’s passing. Keeping TJ’s memory alive is a major impetus for the event, Doug explained. Having been close friends, more like family, with Todd Lobraico, Sr. for decades, Doug recalled, “the first couple days after this tragedy being at Todd’s house and he said ‘I don’t want people to forget about my son.’” This conversation is “my main reason for doing this event,” Doug said.
The one-hundred-mile Bike Run through the Litchfield Hills will occur during the day—hopefully, a gorgeous weather day—with stops at local VFWs and American Legions. All are welcome to join in at Biscotti’s Restaurant beginning at 5:00 p.m. A $25.00 suggested donation covers the food and music by local band Split Decision, plus there will be auctions and raffles—all proceeds go to the TJ Lobraico Memorial Scholarship.
TJ was a graduate of The Sherman School, class of 2004 and New Fairfield High School, class of 2008. He went on to attend Air Force Basic Military Training in 2008 and was a Distinguished Graduate of Air Force Security Forces School in 2009 and Airman Leadership School in 2013. A hero in every sense, TJ’s actions saved others on the night he was killed. For those acts, he was posthumously awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, the Air Force Commendation Medal with Valor, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star with Valor.
The Labraicos are proud of the TJ Lobraico Foundation, which awards $8k in scholarships annually to local young adults leading a life of service. To date, TJ’s legacy has directly impacted the lives of thirty-four future leaders. Donations can be made to support the scholarships at LiveforTJ.org.
Doug fondly recounts, “what sticks in my head is going to Gil’s Gas Station where he worked. He always had a big smile on and I would ask him what project vehicle he was working on.” Doug is hopeful that people “come out to support this true hometown hero, his family, and his legacy” on May 20.
By Sarah Opdahl