CONCORD -- Although nearly five years have passed, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III is continuously reminded of the traumatic time when he landed a plane in the middle of New York City's Hudson River.
"It's still something I think about every day," he said.
Fortunately, no one lost their lives on Jan. 15, 2009, when birds struck both engines during US Airways Flight 1549. But for a few local law enforcement officers and firefighters that has not always been the case.
When tragedy occurs in the line of duty, the One Hundred Club of Contra Costa County quietly steps in, bestowing a check upon the surviving spouse and depositing funds annually into their children's college accounts.
"The whole world stops, but the bills need to be paid, the kids need to go school," said Chris Wenzel, the former Danville police chief who serves as the club's vice president. "That's what we're here to support." The organization will feature Sullenberger, a Danville resident, as the guest speaker for its annual dinner Oct. 24 in Concord. Club Treasurer Marvin Remmich said Sullenberger was a natural choice because he is well known and has a community connection.
"We try to always have a local flavor," he said.
Sullenberger, who has written two books since the incident and gives numerous presentations a year to groups ranging from nuclear power plant workers to educators, will discuss the landing and how many of the aviation safety principles he champions are widely relevant to other public and private sectors.
"I have a greater voice for important things I've cared about my whole life," he said.
The all-volunteer club chapter, which was founded in 1984 and includes more than 700 members who pay annual dues, is one of about 120 autonomous similar organizations throughout the country.
The first club was born in Detroit in the 1950s after car dealer William Packer wrote to 100 people requesting donations for the pregnant widow of a fallen police officer.
In addition to the dinner, Contra Costa's club also holds a yearly crab feed and barbecue to raise money for the family support, which includes a $15,000 check within 48 hours of the death and college funding deposits until the last child turns 18, Remmich said.
The club also assigns one of its members to keep in contact with the family and field requests for any additional assistance by tapping into its cadre of affiliates, from attorneys to plumbers.
The club aided the families of several fallen officers and firefighters throughout the years and most recently California Highway Patrol Officer Kenyon Youngstrom, who left behind a widow and four children in September 2012.
Sullenberger said the club is an important cause, one of many nonprofits his family supports, because we have a civic duty to recognize the courage and dedication of those who protect the public.
"There is a great need when an officer is killed and we all have a responsibility so that no one falls through the cracks -- that the families of those who give the ultimate sacrifice are taken care of," he said.
What: One Hundred Club
of Contra Costa County's
annual dinner, featuring Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III
When: 5 p.m. Oct. 24
Where: Concord Hilton, 1970 Diamond Blvd., Concord
Details: For more information or to buy tickets, contact Marvin Remmich at 925-837-0199
or email Marvin@Marvin-