Joe Kareta was struck by a drunk driver while in his South Hadley driveway five years ago. His family established two scholarships in his name to keep his legacy alive.
"My son Joe graduated with a degree in criminal justice in 2010," said Fred Kareta, Joe's father. "He got his degree approximately 4 four weeks before he died."
He passed the State Police exam shortly after graduating from Westfield State University.
Fred Kareta says this is the fifth year the family has put on the fundraiser in his son's name. They've generated just over $50,000 and given out 26 scholarships to students in the area.
"Not only are we helping kids go to college and further their education, it's kind of like Joe's legacy lives on...Joe lives on. So, if we can't have him here physically at least we can hear people say his name," said Fred Kareta.
The Kareta family established two scholarships in Joe's honor for students studying criminal justice or a related field and who demonstrate financial need, a record of community service, and a grade point average of 3.0 or better.
Westfield State Freshman Jared Rogers is a recipient of the Joe Kareta scholarship. He says he applied for the scholarship because, like Kareta, he's always wanted to serve and protect.
"It means a lot from where it's coming from. He did the same thing I'm doing," said Rogers.
Proceeds from Sunday night's dinner will go towards either the Joe Kareta Memorial Scholarship, CSF Westfield Dollars for Scholars or his Memorial Scholarship at Westfield State University.
"When something like this happens, to do something positive and really look to the future...that's what this family does and that's what we want to instill in the young people that get Joey's award. Who is joey? What was the legacy? And why it's important to help the next set of people coming along," said Mike Knapik, Executive Director of the Westfield State Foundation.
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