Elks, Ruritans show appreciation
Published 10:34 pm Monday, June 24, 2013
The Suffolk Elks Lodge and Suffolk Ruritan Club said thanks to America’s wounded warriors Saturday with a special event in their honor.
At the Elks Lodge on West Constance Road, about 45 wounded veterans and family members attended Salute to Wounded Warriors, said Jimmy Franks of the Elks and the Ruritans.
Franks co-chaired the event’s organizing committee with E.C. Harris, a Suffolk Ruritan.
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Wounded warriors enjoyed good food and a host of games and activities, he said. They were brought to Suffolk from Portsmouth’s Naval Hospital, where they occupy the seventh floor, he added.
“The whole deal was to bring them here with no strings attached, show them a good time, and show them our appreciation for what they do for the country,” Franks said.
Planning for the event started in January, he said. Local businesses were approached for support in various forms, “and nobody turned us down,” he said. “Everybody gave some.”
Wounded warriors attended either individually or with members of their family, Franks said, and support personnel from the Naval Hospital also enjoyed the event.
Some of the veterans had no outward signs of injury, he said, adding, “You would not know there was anything wrong with them as far as outwardly and how they get around.”
Entertainment included cornhole, horseshoes and a dunking booth, where wounded warriors tried to dunk their officers, according to Franks.
Some took to the stage for karaoke, and prizes throughout the event included a donated $800 quilt.
“I think they had a great time,” Franks said. “Everything was just perfect for them.”
Smithfield Foods donated pork, chicken was from Reinhart Foodservice, and Buffalo Wild Wings chipped in with the potato salad, he said.
Each wounded warrior went home with a gift bag containing gift cards and other things, and four barbers were on hand giving free haircuts, which U.S. Marines are required to have weekly, he added.
“We had a massage person giving massages free,” Franks said. “The only reason we could do this was with the support of the community.”
The organizing committee will meet Tuesday night to discuss plans for next year’s event, Franks said.
“We will need to move to a bigger facility, like Sleepy Hole Park or Bennett’s Creek Park,” he said.
While the weekend’s event involved only the Navy and Marines, Franks said the plan for next year is to also bring in the Army.