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To have and to hold, part 1: Marcellus man earns prestigious veteran entrepreneurship award

Jerry Garritillo speaks at the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities class of 2013 opening dinner after receiving the Richard L. Hayden Outstanding Veteran-Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Jerry Garritillo speaks at the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities class of 2013 opening dinner after receiving the Richard L. Hayden Outstanding Veteran-Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Part 1: Jerry Garritillo. This two-part story package explores the individual accomplishments and undivided love of a Marcellus couple. See Part 2: Susan Garritillo to learn more.

Jerry Garritillo had no idea that this year’s opening dinner for the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) — an event he attends every year — would be more special than any year prior.

“For the first time in the history of this award, the recipient of the award … has no idea that they are about to receive this honor,” said Mike Haynie, executive director and founder of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University and founder of the EBV program. “So, ladies and gentleman, please help me congratulate the 2013 recipient of the Haydon EBV Entrepreneur of the Year Award, a veteran of the United States Air Force, Jerry Garritillo.”

For as shocked and unprepared as Jerry was to walk toward the front of the room, his 9-year-old granddaughter was just the opposite. She approached Haynie before the ceremony began and told him that she would like to read a speech when he announced her grandfather’s name.

“I’m going to make this even harder on you — watch this, this is almost not fair,” Haynie said to an already emotional Jerry and to the more than 100 people in attendance. “I’m going to invite his granddaughter Emily up here, who has written her own little speech about her grandfather.”

“Jerry Garritillo is a very good grandpa to me,” Emily proudly stated to the crowd. “He is such a funny and cool and awesome guy. I love him so deeply in my heart. He is so, so sweet to me, and this is why I am thankful for my grandpa Jerry Garritillo.”

At the July 20 dinner, Garritillo, a 2008 graduate of the EBV program who has been out of the Air Force for 10 years this year, was recognized for his commitment to his private family business —the Garritillo Agency — and the way he uses his business to strengthen ties with family, friends and the community.

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