John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.
Saturday, May 26 was a beautiful day to walk around Lake Frances to bring awareness to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a disease that has unfortunately gnawed at veterans for ages, both local and worldwide. Approximately 40 people showed up to support Mission 22, a veteran-run support organization, and When PTSD Hits Home, a local organization headed by Sarah Leigh McGraw.
During the event, guests enjoyed a chicken dinner with baked beans, potato salad, and a roll for $5. Throughout the event, prizes were given away, including a three day, two-night stay at the Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club in Marathon, Fl., which was won by Madison County Sheriff's Office Corporal Chris O'Brian. Deputy Ben Pike won a custom toolbox, donated by RDS Manufacturing, Inc. of Perry. Tim Clayton, Cheryl Gross-Tillman, and Gena Plain won a $20 gift certificate to Road ID. Also, Jimmy Fletcher won a FitBook and a 32 inch Haier television, donated by Badcock Furniture of Live Oak, and Tracy McGuffie won a handcrafted dream catcher, made by Kim Pickles of Dowling Park.
In attendance was the Sheriff's Emergency Response Team, who alternatively walked and ran in constant rotation for hours. There were also members of the Madison Police Department, Madison Fire Rescue, and Madison County EMS who all came in rotations. Chief Buddy Williams of the Live Oak Police Department was generous to donate 100 pounds of potatoes for the chicken dinner. Other people who were not registered for the event came to walk in support of the mission to end PTSD.
To top the event, a little over $300 was raised in support of Mission 22, an organization whose Board of Directors is comprised of three Special Forces operators: Magnus Johnson, Mike Kissel and Infantryman Brad Hubbard, all of whom have all had personal battles with PTSD. Their mission is to raise awareness, enlist and gain support, and end veteran suicide in America.
“We wanted to raise funds and awareness, but we also wanted to keep it community-driven,” said McGraw. “[I'm] so thankful for all of the many wonderful people and sponsors who came out and helped make our event a great start to what we hope is a lasting relationship with the community.”
The remaining food from the chicken dinner was given to quite a few people for free and some were taken to the Refuge House in Taylor County, a shelter for battered women and children.