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Bruce Smith hosting celebrity golf event & gala for the Lt. Aaron Salter Memorial scholarship

"We want to show our love and commitment to the east side of Buffalo. May 14 can not be a day that is just an afterthought," Smith said.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Aaron Salter died a "hero" in the eyes of those who knew him and know his story on May 14 inside and outside of Tops market on Jefferson Avenue.

The retired police officer, posthumously awarded the Buffalo police department's Medal of Honor and promoted to lieutenant, was killed while working security at the supermarket.

Bruce Smith, of Buffalo Bills fame and an NFL Hall of Famer, was moved by the act of white supremacy in a black neighborhood in the city where he rose to fame. 

He reached out to Lt. Salter's friends, and retired police officers to assist in an effort to start the Lt. Aaron Salter Memorial Scholarship.

"Aaron was a hero. I can talk about in the past how great he was as a police officer, how great he was as a community person, but most importantly he was a hero," said his friend and retired officer Earl Perrin Jr. "he had the opportunity to leave (the store), he was outside when the shooting began. He went back inside to try to help people out, because of his heroism there is a young girl who was a college student at Canisius College that was able to get away."

"We want to show our love and commitment to the east side of Buffalo. May 14 can not be a day that is just an afterthought. It has to be a conscious thought, a constant thought to strengthening this community," Smith said.

Retired officers Perrin, Brad Pitts, and Nate Goldsmith established the scholarship. 10 students will receive at least $5,000 next year.

The owner of Paddock Chevrolet, Duane Paddock, contributed $100,000 to the scholarship fund.

"We wanted to be able to have some type of impact," Paddock said at the gala held at Seneca 1. "We struggled with what we really wanted to do. And then I found out about the foundation, what I loved about it, is it was going to have an impact on many children's lives as they grow up."

Paddock said that the money will continue annually, but the community providing mentorship for young people will help bring positive change to the community. 

"Have them understand that they've got a wonderful future," Paddock said.

Lt. Salter's widow is in full support of the events happening, according to Perrin.

While this is about scholarships, they also want to make sure there is mentoring for the youth.

Also at the Gala, Mayor Byron Brown surprised Smith with a proclamation, declaring August 29th, 2022 "Bruce Smith day" in the city of Buffalo. 

"I was not expecting this memorandum," Smith told the crowd. 

The final tally of money raised for the scholarship is still being counted, but in addition to the $100,000 donated by Paddock, $10,000 was also donated by Hampton University. Smith made that announcement at the beginning of the gala. 

"I'm excited that they came on board and they understood it," Smith said. "It's a historically black college, but they understand the significance of trying to level the playing field and give these kids an opportunity."

    

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