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Veterans ‘Welcome Home’ event today

By Staff | Jun 24, 2011

A “Welcome Home” celebration for all past and present veterans will be held in Fort Myers today. A motorcycle ride from Cape Coral will kick off the special event.
Tyler Araujo and his son, Specialist Michael Araujo, decided to try to make a difference for the veterans who are coming home by holding an event that will shed some light on the various organizations that provides assistance for soldiers.
Michael was injured while deployed in Afghanistan in 2009.
After he graduated from Mariner High School in 2008, Michael attended boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. In December 2008, he graduated from boot camp and military police training and was immediately sent to Fort Steward, Ga. He left for his deployment to Afghanistan on July 28, 2009, and was injured by an 18-ton IED explosive under his vehicle on Oct. 16, 2009.
He was awarded a Purple Heart in December while being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Tyler said his son is doing really well.
The free welcome home event will take place from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., at Sun Sport Cycle and Watercraft located at 3441 Colonial Blvd., in Fort Myers.
A free escorted motorcycle ride by the Lee County Sheriff’s Department and Fort Myers Police Department will take place from Cape Coral to Fort Myers. The ride will begin at 2411 Del Prado Blvd., South, to Sun Sports Cycle and Watercraft where the celebration will take place.
Everyone will gather at 9:30 a.m. with the ride beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Approximately 100-150 motorcycles are expected to participate in the ride.
The ride will go across the Veterans Memorial Bridge, so the riders can pass the Iwo Jima Statue and other memorials to honor the veterans as they ride past all the way to Sun Sports Cycle and Watercraft.
Tyler and Michael will ride in the event on his bike. Sgt. John Sullo and the Ronin Riding Club will also ride in the event.
A VFW color guard ceremony, the playing of “taps” and a 21-gun salute for the nation’s fallen soldiers will open the event once all of the motorcycles arrive at 11 a.m.
Five bands will perform during the celebration, including The Brew, Superbreed, Yazgars Farm, Underground and Sand Fleas.
“They all donated their time,” Tyler said about the bands. “They are all great, outstanding people.”
The bands will play at different hours throughout the event on one stage.
The Florida Blood Bank will be at the event for those who wish to donate blood, along with pony rides for the kids.
Approximately 20 prizes have been donated by businesses for a raffle that will be held.
Tyler said some of the prizes include a one-night, two-day stay at Harbour House Hotel on Fort Myers Beach and a two-night stay at the Cape Coral Hampton Inn, along with numerous gift cards to local businesses.
He said if there is any profit is accumulated during the special event, it will be donated to an organization that provides services to soldiers.
The Disabled American Vets will be in attendance during the celebration to help veterans file claims, along with acting as their liaison if they do not have their DD 214 – discharge forms from the military.
The Veterans Foundation should also be at the event and representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project are hoping to attend. Tyler said he has already received an abundance of information he can pass out during the event from the Wounded Warriors Project.
Mayor John Sullivan and Councilmember Kevin McGrail are expected to attend the event as well.
Vendors Boston Ale N Tail and Racks and Tails will provide food.