The 8th Annual Sun Lakes Veterans Walk occurred last Saturday, as more than 200 participants gathered in front of the MCH before taking to the streets for a 2-mile walk around the community.
It was a beautiful day for the event, featuring for the first time members of the Banning School District California Cadet Corps, who presented the colors.
Under the proud direction of Captain Roosevelt Buekner, Commandant, five nervous cadets completed the Presentation of Colors with poise and precision. They were: Cadet 1st Class Aracelia Avila, Cadet Justice Briggs, Cadet 1st Class Marco Salazar, Cadet 1st Class Dominic Salazar, and Cadet 1st Class Brendon Milledge.
Before the Walk officially began, the Restaurant Advisory Committee continued signing up participants and selling commemorative tee shirts.
VFW Post 233’s Ladies Auxiliary gave out poppies, and Brandi and Ron Dorres gave out flag pins to veterans.
Brandi represented Kindred Hospice, which—besides providing hospice care—helps veterans sign up to receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
Also in the crowd were Santa Claus (Tom Reynolds), Mrs. Claus (Kathy Perrone), and Captain America (Brandon Nemire), who posed for many pictures to mark the occasion. Then the Sun Lakes Barbershop Chorus sang the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the Colors were presented, and the walkers took off. After participants returned to the MCH, a delightful continental breakfast was served to all.
The annual Veterans Walk supports VFW Post 233. This year, according to Recreation Director Elise Campbell, Sun Lakes will meet its goal of a $7,000 donation to the Post. The exact figure will be announced in January's Lifestyles magazine. Sponsors of the Walk included Sun Lakes Bingo, Social Singles, Beaver Medical Group, Image Up, Sun Lakes Playhouse, Kindred Hospice, Men’s Golf Club, Garden Club, Morongo Casino & Resort, Cherry Valley Automotive, Periccone Juices, Carl & Shelly Braarz, and Patricia Elevi.
Campbell saluted each branch of the service, and the spouses that stand behind them. She announced that District 7 raised the most money and had the biggest team for the Walk, with District 4 a close second. Both Districts will receive an ice-cream social for their efforts.
District 7 pledged an additional $250 donation during the breakfast.
Campbell introduced decorated Vietnam veteran Jerry Walker, who talked about his experiences on multiple tours in Vietnam as a Rifle Company Corpsman. Walker spoke earnestly about the work of VFW Post 233, which has only 25 active members and is the 2nd most productive support VFW Post in the entire state of California.
“Every year,” said Walker, “we spend about $18,000 to support veterans and their families in the Pass area.”
Volunteers are always needed to sell poppies in shopping centers, which is their main fund-raiser, although donations come in during the year and are always welcomed.