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Rep. Zeldin Surprises Smithtown Deli Owner with Invitation to the State of the Union

January 24, 2018
Press Release


Rep. Zeldin (middle) invites Donato Panico of Smithtown (second from left) to the President’s State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., on January 30th. Watch yesterday’s moment here.  

SMITHTOWN, N.Y. - On Tuesday, January 23, 2018, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) surprised former Smithtown deli owner and founder of Heros 4 Our Heroes Donato Panico, with an invitation to President Trump’s first State of the Union Address on January 30, 2018.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Donato loaded up his catering truck and drove to Ground Zero to feed search and rescue workers with sandwiches from his Smithtown deli, Panico's Community Market. He spent 10 straight days at Ground Zero, serving first responders breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sleeping in his catering truck. His tradition of giving continued, and last September 11th, he gave out over 3,000 sandwiches to firefighters, police and veterans on Long Island and NYC. This year, Donato is retiring from his deli so he can dedicate all of his time to his foundation Heros 4 Our Heroes, which is committed to feeding the brave men and women who selflessly serve Americans each and every day.

Donato Panico’s dedicated leadership, patriotism and community service have been invaluable. On September 11th, his generosity, kindness and hope illuminated even our darkest of days. His hard work and sacrifice represent the resilient spirit of our community and he has not wavered in his commitment to our nation’s first responders, police officers and firefighters,” said Congressman Zeldin. “Donato embodies the values so many across Long Island look up to, and it is my honor to attend the State of the Union address alongside someone who has sacrificed so much to better the lives of others. Donato Panico is a truly Great American!”

“I never expected this! Throughout my life, I have committed myself to giving, not because I sought reward or personal acknowledgement, but to help others in their time of need,” said Donato Panico, Founder of Heros 4 Our Heroes. “This is an unbelievable honor, and I am so humbled to attend the President’s State of the Union in Washington, D.C. with my local Congressman. Thank you to all those who have helped me continue my mission of feeding our first responders, but mostly importantly thank you to our men and women in blue, our firefighters, and so many others who put their lives on the line each and every day to protect ours. Truly, they are the ones who deserve our gratitude.”