By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
The Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club is getting ready to host two well-known U.S Drug Enforcement Administration agents for its annual fundraising gala. The gala, which takes place Aug. 4 …
The Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club is getting ready to host two well-known U.S Drug Enforcement Administration agents for its annual fundraising gala.
The gala, which takes place Aug. 4 at the Cleveland Country Club, will feature retired DEA agents Stephen Murphy and Javier Peña. These two were involved in the investigation which in 1993 led to the demise of infamous "narco-terrorist" Pablo Escobar, leader of a major drug cartel in Medellín, Columbia.
"We hold this gala every year to raise money to help the community and always try to have an exciting speaker," said Matthew Coleman, president of the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club. "One of our Rotarians had gotten the chance to hear Mr. Murphy and Mr. Peña speak, and they had an incredible story to tell."
Murphy boasts 37 years of law enforcement experience, having worked his way up from being a police officer in a small West Virginia town to ultimately retiring as the deputy assistant administrator of the DEA in 2013. Peña retired in 2014 as the special agent in charge of the DEA Houston Field Division after 30 years of service. Both have experience going after drug traffickers all over the world.
In 1988, the two became partners in their investigation and pursuit of Escobar, working with the DEA office in Bogotá, Colombia. They spent six years pursuing Escobar, before he was ultimately shot and killed by law enforcement agents.
The story of their work in Columbia was the inspiration behind “Narcos,” a television series on online streaming service Netflix. In addition to serving as senior consultants for the show, they also travel the country talking about their experiences.
Coleman said he thinks many people will be interested in hearing these retired DEA agents speak, due to the popularity of the show and how prevalent the problem of drug trafficking remains today.
“I think it’s neat to see how people have been fighting this for many years, and they will offer some unique insight on what they encountered,” said Coleman. "It is an interesting story, even to those who are not involved in law enforcement."
The local Rotary Club's annual gala will feature a presentation from the speakers, as well as dinner, a silent auction and a live auction.
There are corporate sponsorship opportunities available, and the club is currently asking people to reserve tables for eight at the cost of $1,600. If space allows, individual tickets will also be sold for $200 each. Club members are also accepting donations of items to be sold during the live and silent auctions.
The club is raising money to give away. Each year, the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club Foundation presents several grants to local causes.
“The proceeds go to local nonprofit organizations, or organizations that support people in the local community,” said Coleman. “On average, we raise more than $100,000 each year.”
Past recipients of these funds have included: Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, The Salvation Army of Cleveland, Anchor Point Foundation, The Caring Place, CASA of Bradley County, Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region, Life Bridges, Cleveland/Bradley Keep America Beautiful, Men & Women of Action, The Refuge and more.
Coleman said those attending the event will get to learn about some of these efforts, in addition to hearing the "exciting" presentation from Murphy and Peña and taking part in the dinner and auctions.
“It is a lot of fun,” Coleman said. “It’s also an event you can walk away from and feel like you have done something great for the community.”
To inquire about sponsorships, reserve tables or donate auction items for the event, call 423-715-3093 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the club and its efforts, visit www.BradleySunriseRotary.com.
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