Connecticut Citizens Defense League 2021 BBQ Fundraiser a Huge Success

Sponsorship Money Donations Contribution Fundraising
Connecticut Citizens Defense League BBQ Fundraiser a Huge Success

Connecticut – -( Connecticut is one of those states a lot of people find themselves driving through while headed on vacation to New England or say south to the Jersey Shore.

With a mixed bag of suburbanite transplants from New York and New Jersey and ample rural areas, Connecticut has an eclectic makeup.  Hartford, Connecticut is home of Colt Manufacturing, and much like our friends to the north, Smith and Wesson in Springfield, Massachusetts, you would not think it given the odds anything firearm related is up against. While similar to its neighbors, Connecticut has a political makeup that is dominated by people who identify as being left of center, but they also have a very large Second Amendment community.

On Sunday, May 16, 2021, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) held a fundraising BBQ event (the 2021 “Dinner Out”). I had the pleasure of having an invitation extended to me and I’m really glad that I went. The CCDL is a state-run Second Amendment advocacy group. From CCDL’s mission statement:

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League is a non-partisan, grassroots organization devoted to advocating rights affirmed by the Constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Connecticut. We are especially dedicated to protecting the unalienable right of all citizens to keep and bear arms, for the defense of both self and state, through public enlightenment and legislative action.

We welcome anyone who believes that the defense of our constitutional rights is critical to the longevity of our freedom and to the success of this nation, and in particular that the rights to self defense and to keep and bear the arms to actualize that defense, are fundamental and undeniable.

The group is somewhat new, having been founded approximately 12 years ago, but they have quite a following. According to the CCDL President, Holly Sullivan, they have over 40,000 members. That is something some of these other 2A organizations need to take note of…if Connecticut, the third smallest state in the country can pull something like that off while being surrounded by a sea of blue, other states really have no excuse. The uniqueness of CCDL does not end at their impressive membership numbers but also lies in the leadership itself. Sullivan is the only female head of a state Second Amendment group in the country.

CCDL Executive Committee

The catered BBQ was held at La Bella Vista in Waterbury at their outdoor pavilion. The offerings ranged from your standard go-to burgers and dogs to eggplant rollatini, NY strip steaks, and a carved pig. At $50.00 ahead it was a bargain for the 260 paid participants. According to Beth Drysdale, the event coordinator, and current secretary, the CCDL is very happy with the donations received from all the benefactors. All of the proceeds are marked to be put into CCDL’s litigation fund. Drysdale and I talked about the event and what planning challenges she had:

CCDL’s Dinner Out was planned as an attempt to bridge compliance with the Governors COVID restrictions and the needs we all had to be together. As restrictions were lifted the Pavilions at La Bella Vista provided the ideal, outside and socially distant backdrop of our event, but in the end, all restrictions were lifted on outside events! We were lucky in that several big-time vendors stepped up and provided donations used as fundraising prizes.

CCDL Members Enjoy the Catered Meal and Some Fellowship

There was a drawing for the fundraising prizes offered by the generous corporations, vendors, and individuals. Some of them included:

Some of the Donated Prizes for the Drawing

In attendance were several dignitaries and notable members of the 2nd Amendment community such as:

I also had the opportunity to meet and chat with Lauren LePage, the State Director for the region from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. LePage drove down from Maine to offer her support to the CCDL. This is what she had to say about those she represents in Connecticut:

NRA is proud to work on behalf of our members in Connecticut to preserve and protect their Second Amendment rights.

Buzzing about throughout the event was President Holly Sullivan. She remained in action talking with her members and tending to the needs of her staff throughout the afternoon. When she took a break during one of the prize drawings we had a chance to catch up so I asked her about the event and her thoughts:

It was important to our committee and our membership that we hosted this event and got our people together again since COVID restrictions were lifted. While CCDL has more than 40,000 members, many of us are like family and you can sense that here today. We aren’t just fighting for our own rights but also each other’s and our children’s. In a tough state like ours, we truly are a 2A community.

The CCDL fundraiser looked like, and from all accounts was a huge success. I was impressed with the zeal of the membership as well as the number of people that came out to show the group support. What was equally impressive was that the CCDL team only had three weeks to promote the event due to COVID restrictions. If you’re interested in learning more about the CCDL or donating to them, you can find them online at:

Connecticut Citizens Defense League is a 501(c)4 non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization with over 40,000 members. We are especially dedicated to advocating and protecting the unalienable rights of all citizens to keep and bear arms for the defense of both self and state through public enlightenment and legislative action.

Connecticut Citizens Defense League

John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .

John Petrolino
John Petrolino