The annual Sarasota Prayer Breakfast marked 50 years on March 17.
Jan Hamel Solomon remembers helping her father J.D. Hamel organize and prepare some of the first Sarasota Prayer Breakfasts decades ago.
When asked to speak at the event's 50th anniversary event on March 17, Solomon said it felt like a homecoming.
She and several other local dignitaries took part in the 50th anniversary prayer breakfast at the Hyatt Regency. Nearly 500 people attended celebratory event, featuring guest speaker William Federer as well as NFL player-turned-motivational speaker Ricky Bolden.
After a brief time mingling, the program started with lawyer Dan Bailey thanking the crowd for attending the breakfast. Stephan Dart sounded the shofar marked the start of the opening prayer led by Joy Irwin Schtakleff. Schtakleff is daughter of Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin and is the president of the High Flight Foundation.
The Sarasota Military Academy color guard presented the colors before the audience was welcomed by Sarasota County Commission Chair Alan Maio.
Jan Solomon and her husband, Tim, then relayed a message of peace and prayer before passing off to Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee CEO Shep Englander to perform the Old Testament reading. The Rev. Jerzy "George" Suszko delivered the New Testament reading before Ricky Bolden made a prayer for leadership.
Guest speaker William Federer took time to speak to the audience before the ceremony ended with a benediction by deacon Humberto Alvia.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.