Patrick Lay car show at Braden River High School earns money for scholarships

jajones1@bradenton.comDecember 3, 2012 

EAST MANATEE -- Spc. Patrick Lay, who lost his life in Afghanistan on Aug. 11, 2011, would have undoubtedly been drawn to the big trucks parked at Braden River High School.

Not that the Braden River grad wouldn't have checked out the hot rods and classic muscle cars at the car show Sunday, said his mother, Stefenie Hernandez.

"He did love the cars," she said. "But he was partial to the big trucks."

Because he was such an automobile buff, Braden River High students and faculty hosted the second Patrick Lay car show Sunday in his honor and as a fundraiser for scholarships.

"It goes to the kind of person that he was: a hard worker with a big heart," said Vanessa Giammanco, an agriculture teacher at the school.

Lay, one of at least eight Manatee County residents who have died in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was only 21 when he lost his life.

Hernandez brought one of her son's uniforms that he wore in Afghanistan, and his military awards and decorations, including the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

She displayed them near a gleaming black 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air owned by Mason Lanford.

Lay grew up with children from the Lanford family. "He was always at their house," Hernandez said.

Many of the students enrolled at Braden River High today never knew Patrick Lay, but they are aware of his legacy, and the fact that he is the first graduate of their school to lose his life fighting for his country.

"The turnout is larger than we expected," ninth-grader Jordan Boughner said.

The car show last year helped earn more than $3,000 for scholarships, said Deb Barry, a Braden River agriculture teacher.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.

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