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Del Webb community turns out to celebrate veterans' contributions

The Del Webb Lakewood Ranch Association of Veterans and Military Supporters raised $20,000 to help nonprofits.


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For the Del Webb Lakewood Ranch Association of Veterans and Military Supporters, its fifth annual Veterans Day Celebration was a special day, but it also is a continuation of a constant effort to support veterans and their families.

During the Nov. 6 event, the organization handed out $20,000 of assistance to organizations it supports, such as Manasota Operation Troop Support, JFCS of the Suncoast (Veterans Outreach), My Warrior's Place of Ruskin, and Southeastern Guide Dogs.

However, members of those organizations said the Del Webb group is always providing assistance in other ways.

For instance, Manasota Operation Troop Support knew that Bradenton veteran Mike Perdue was dealing with neuropathy and was in need of a comfortable recliner. It put out the word and Del Webb's Jeanette MacDonald responded, donating her late father's recliner.

Of course, the monetary donations are huge to the organizations as well.

Sean Brown, representing Southeastern Guide Dogs, receives a check from secretary Dave Chervin. (Photo by Ian Swaby)
Sean Brown, representing Southeastern Guide Dogs, receives a check from secretary Dave Chervin. (Photo by Ian Swaby)

My Warrior's Place founder Kelly Kowall said donations are important to her organization, which provides a retreat for veterans and grieving family members. She said their premises include a series of cottages where individuals can stay overnight.

“Their donations help us keep the lights on,” she said of the Del Webb Lakewood Ranch Association of Veterans and Military Supporters.

Manasota Operation Troop Support member Linda Craig and said the Lakewood Ranch Association of Veterans and Military Supporters always finds ways to support their effort to provide care packages to area troops.

Those who attended the Veterans Day Celebration said the effort is growing along with the size of the neighborhood.

“It gets a little bigger and a little better every time,” said Rich Greenberg, the president of Del Webb Lakewood Ranch Association of Veterans and Military Supporters, of the annual event.

This year's event was hosted in the parking lot of Del Webb's clubhouse.

The event focused on honoring the benefactor organizations that provide assistance to veterans.

Former battalion commander Marlene Carter speaks at the event. (Photo by Ian Swaby)
Former battalion commander Marlene Carter speaks at the event. (Photo by Ian Swaby)

Greenberg said the Lakewood Ranch Association of Military Supporters has about 400 members and 30% of those actually are veterans.

He said the group's fundraising events, such as dances, are well attended and often draw 300 people or more.

Those who attended the Nov. 6 event said it's hard not to get emotional when nonprofit's talk about their efforts to help veterans.

Del Webb’s Bob Sharak, a past secretary of the Del Webb Lakewood Ranch Association of Veterans and Military Supporters, said he was proud to see his community's level of support for veterans activities.

“I’m especially proud that (Del Webb residents) care enough to sponsor an event for veterans like myself,” he said.

The event included an honor guard that was led by Joseph Colella, a Korean War veteran who recently moved to Del Webb, and the group's Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Cote.

Let's Sing members, Del Webb's Ivy Ruark and Jerry Scoville, sing God Bless America. (Photo by Ian Swaby)
Let's Sing members, Del Webb's Ivy Ruark and Jerry Scoville, sing God Bless America. (Photo by Ian Swaby)

Del Webb’s Angelo Truglio led the community’s Let’s Sing choir, while the Sarasota-based band, Lion Rampant Pipe & Drum, provided drums and bagpipes. Ruselle Bain, a cantor with Temple Israel of Highlands County, provided an invocation in both Hebrew and English.

Serving as guest speakers at the event were Largo residents and veterans Marlene and Al Carter.

Marlene Carter said events such as the Nov. 6 event were an important part of nonprofits' missions to better the lives of veterans.

“We've had the good fortune to meet veterans from all over the country and to participate in events such as these that support and help other veterans,” she said.

 

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