Veterans gets a Southwest Florida style welcome home
Bikes, barbecue and bands offered up a Southwest Florida style thank you to veterans attending a Welcome Home celebration at Sun Sport Cycle and Watercraft in Fort Myers Saturday.
An early morning motorcycle ride from Cape Coral opened the event organized by Cape resident Tyler Araujo, whose son, Spc. Michael Araujo, was wounded in late 2009 while deployed to Afghanistan.
The elder Araujo wanted to welcome not only his son, home on leave from Fort Steward, Ga, where he is still out-processing, but all veterans.
“Outstanding, a very outstanding turnout,” Tyler said as the second band took the stage to a packed parking lot shortly after noon.
He deemed the event a success, and said he was pleased that people understood the meaning of the event, and what veterans have sacrificed.
His son, who has been awarded a Purple Heart, greeted well-wishers at a small table set up near a large sign dedicated to the memory of Staff Sgt. Christopher Rudzinski.
Rudzinski lost his life in the same roadside bomb explosion in which Spc. Araujo was severely injured.
The sign summed up the event’s message succinctly: “all gave some, some gave all.”
The five bands — The Brew, Superbreed, Yazgars Farm, Underground and Sand Fleas — donated their time as did the sound crew brought in by Joe Basak of Valentine Sight & Sound.
“Anything I can do, and we can do, to support the troops is wonderful,” said Craig Swiger, lead singer for Yazgars Farm and a U.S Army veteran who served in Desert Storm.
Numerous businesses, which provided sponsorships and donations for nearly two dozen raffle drawings, and vendors, who served up beverages and a variety of barbecue, helped make the event a success.
“We participated because it’s an excellent opportunity to help our veterans with the cause they put together here,” said Taylor Perri, marketing director for Racks and Tails barbecue, which served up plates of ribs and burgers throughout the day. “I think they had an excellent turnout, and the weather co-operated.”
The event was not a fund-raiser, Tyler Araujo stressed, saying any money made would be donated to local veteran’s organizations, some of which were also in attendance to help attending veterans with claim filing and other paperwork.