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‘Crossing of America’ Jeep tour to make stop in Cape

By Staff | Aug 9, 2011

Cape Coral will play host to the “Crossing of America” Jeep tour this week, an effort to raise awareness and funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit agency that aids soldiers returning home with severe injuries.

The tour is the effort of San Diego-based Spirit of Liberty Foundation.

That foundation was formed to raise funds for refurbishing the Statue of Liberty, but the group changed directions in the wake of the attacks of 9/11 to focus on promoting the meaning and symbolism of American freedoms.

The “Crossing of America” tour is part of that effort, which began on the deck of the USS Midway on San Diego Harbor and will close the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 on the USS Intrepid in New York Harbor.

When it’s all said and done, the two jeeps, draped in Old Glory, will have traveled more than 12,700 miles, through 43 states and Washington, D.C.

“The Jeep idea just snowballed and turned into an avalanche,” said Tobin Olson, from Spirit of Liberty Foundations. “It’s really taken off.”

The vehicles will arrive in Cape Coral on Thursday evening, and the Hampton Inn and Suites in downtown is providing two rooms for free for the travelers. Later that night Cape Fire Station 1 will host the Jeep crews and provide a free dinner.

Cape Coral Professional Firefighters Union 2424 is sponsoring the dinner and the firefighters of Fire Station 1 are paying for the meal.

“We felt it, the mission they’re doing, it’s both an awareness campaign and to honor the veterans and we wanted to be a part of that,” said Firefighter Brenden Fonock. “It’s a tradition for firefighters to cook meals and it’s the least we could do to welcome them.”

A full slate of events is scheduled for Friday, starting with a special ceremony at the Veterans Plaza area of Eco Park.

Starting at 10 a.m., that ceremony will feature a proclamation by Mayor John Sullivan, words from the “Crossing of America” crew, a flyover and other activities.

The action will then shift across the river to the Galeana Jeep dealership in South Fort Myers, with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department acting as an escort.

Doug Reiter from Galeana Jeep said the Southwest Florida Caloosa Jeepers, a club dedicated to all things Jeep, brought the efforts of “Crossing of America” to his attention.

Reiter said he is honored to have the opportunity to spotlight the efforts of the tour and the “Spirit of Liberty” group.

“When I found out about this tour, I thought it was a great opportunity for our patriotic community to come out and welcome these people,” Reiter said. “They’ve gone on this historic journey and we want to show them what we’re made of and how we are as hosts.”

Galeana will be hosting its own ceremony for the group, featuring Sheriff Mike Scott and Ray Judah, along with other law enforcement agencies and military groups.

Reiter said he wants to show the “Crossing of America” group how much Southwest Florida appreciates their efforts, and especially the efforts of the men and women serving in our armed forces.

“Hopefully the community will get behind this and do what they can to get to one or both of these venues on Friday,” Reiter said. “We want to give them a gracious welcoming.”