In Florida last week, two separate groups of Angels worked to remember the victims and heroes of September 11, 2001 and increase support for the men and women who have been fighting since then. The events were conducted in conjunction with a variety of Angel remembrances of 9-11 at locations around the country.
In Panama City Beach, 131 registered runners signed up for a 5k (3.1 mile) early morning run, along with a blood drive. At the University of South Florida in Tampa, students, staff and community members rocked out to country music while learning more about the sacrifices made because of 9-11.
The Panama City Beach "Run for Remembrance" was held at Aaron Bessant Park and pulled in a variety of troop support and community organizations, including the local VFW, Wounded Warrior Riders, and the American Legion Auxiliary. The local ROTC presented the Colors, and school children sang the National Anthem.
Rain tried to wipe out Panama City Beach's event, but participants and volunteers were in excellent spirits--from the youngest runner at age four to the 60-something Vietnam veteran, all of whom came in under one hour. Each runner received a custom bumper sticker and t-shirt honoring 9-11 and Soldiers' Angels, both of which were big hits. The bumper stickers, t-shirts, water, sports drinks, gift/discount certificates and significant financial donations were all supplied by local sponsors, especially car dealership John Lee Nissan.
"Everybody had a wonderful time," reported Angel Rebecca, who spearheaded the Run and associated activities with the help of a huge army of volunteers. "A lot of people said they are looking forward to doing it again next year." Activities included a moment of silence for those who died on 9-11, and a blood drive in honor of first responders. They wrapped things up with an awards presentation at a local restaurant that provided breakfast for everyone.
At the University of South Florida, several hundred people enjoyed the music of Nashville-based artists Logan Mize and Jared Ashley at an outdoor "Remember Our Heroes" concert on the campus' MLK Plaza. Threaded among the songs were presentations by a navy veteran who honored his fellow troops and a member of Gold Star Mothers of Florida who talked about her experience of losing a child to war and of participating in the Letter Writing Team. There were also moments of silence marking the 9-11 attacks and all who have died in the wars since then.
The USF event was led by a small but dedicated group of Angels who raised funds through sale of the concert tickets and set up a table where people could write notes to the troops and learn more about Soldiers' Angels. Lauren, who coordinated the event, was excited to get younger people involved. "It was great to have it on a college campus," she says, "It was a really great way to get students involved and raise awareness about the importance of supporting the troops within the younger generation."
Congratulations to both groups of Florida Angels for creating such fantastic opportunities to remember, honor and support!