All The Hands That Make It Happen by Kelly Gee

Archived in the category: Events, Featured Writers, General Info, Organizations
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 16 Jun 16 - 0 Comments

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Warriors Weekend 2016 was a matchless success! More than 900 wounded veterans, modern day heroes, came from military bases, hospitals, rehabs centers, homes and communities across the country to enjoy a weekend of fun, food, fishing and friendship. These veterans, wounded in service for America, deserve more than our gratitude. Many of them have struggled…struggled to survive, to return, to be healthy and whole again, to find their way back into their families, communities and their former lives. This special weekend offers them a chance to connect with others who share a personal understanding of the struggles. It gives them a little hint of the appreciation many Americans feel for them and their sacrificial service. The experience presents many of them an opportunity to salt water fish for the first time, while others get outdoors and active for the first time in a long time of recovery. Hopefully it imparts to them a sense of joy and hope and renewed determination to face the struggles, conquer the hurdles and find what is next in life for them after their service. It was, as always, a privilege to share time, hear stories, trade smiles and hugs and handshakes, see the unbounded excitement of ‘fish-on’, hear the tales and experience the weekend with these men and women who may be some of the most unsung heroes in our nation. To them I am truly grateful.

While the sacrifice is negligible and the service small by comparison, there are some others that I really want to thank for making Warriors Weekend 2016 possible. I want to give a big hand to all the hands that make it happen. A year or more ago, the directors and leadership of Warriors Weekend.org began planning, fundraising, scheduling and organizing for this year’s event. They worked right up to the moment the defenders of freedom arrived and did not quit until well after they departed, as well as being cheerfully on…on call, on duty, on the carpet, on display, on task, on… the entire time of the event. Their unpaid work of love and commitment is a staggering load, especially when you realize they have lives, jobs, families and struggles of their own that do not stop or take a break just because it is Warriors Weekend. Without them this event would not be possible.

In addition, hundreds of volunteers from not only our area but across our state and even other places give of their time, their funds, their talents and abilities, offering their hands to help our warriors. More than 1,700 hands made cakes and cookies, 500 hands cooked and grilled, prepped and packaged; and more than 2,000 hands made coffee, poured milk, juice, tea, and coffee, cut pies and stirred salads, set up tables and chairs, took out trash and washed dishes. Some were old and used to hard work, some were young and eager to serve, many were hands that served in more than one location.

400+ hands kept us safe and secure as they directed traffic and managed security, hundreds of hands flew planes, drove buses, cars, vans, trucks, golf carts and other vehicles, at least 500 hands fueled boats and prepped fishing equipment, 250+ hands cleaned fish and packaged filets for travel home with warriors. 300 or more hands got sandy to make art that honored and more than 400 hands shot pictures and videos that report, commemorate and celebrate the highlights of the weekend.
A 100 or more hands massaged and masseused while others offered first aid and healing assistance as needed. Many offered homes and beds and bunks their hands made ready. Young hands cheered and old hands clapped, child hands made cards and senior hands waved flags, some injured hands cracked eggs and some dirty hands moved dirt and woodchips to manage the mud. Some imprisoned hands volunteered and counted it a privilege.

To all those hands and the giving hearts they represent I say THANK YOU EACH AND EVERY ONE! I pray you found it a blessing in return multiplied a hundred times over to come, to serve, to offer your hands in whatever way you can to honor and thank and support our heroes.

Warriors Weekend is a huge event, but in the end, it is about the little things. It’s about the hand up, the hand out, the hands on and all hands on deck, the hand of friendship you extend and the hand of encouragement you offer. No hand is too big, none too small, none too unskilled to make a difference. When the task is big, many hands make the labor light and the task joyful. I hope your hands of service brought you joy, because I know they brought joy to those you served.
Wash up, file your nails or get your patriotic polish ready as we would like to reserve your serving hands in advance for next year.

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