The YMCA of South Florida has a long history of supporting military veterans, which includes discounted rates for memberships and various Y programming for them and their families. That tradition continued during this year’s Veterans Day week with a series of events that paid tribute to our nation’s heroes. As a preview to the Y’s 9th Annual Veterans Day Salute, its flagship Veterans Day event, celebrations kicked off on November 9 with an intimate Keynote Reception and Conversation presented by Milner Inc., featuring keynote speaker Captain Scott O’Grady along with board members and U.S. armed forces veterans Tom McMahon (Navy) and Colonel Kip Lassner (Army). With close to 100 people in attendance, the event took place at the Victory Black Box Theatre, located inside Fort Lauderdale’s L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center. On November 10, in partnership with the City of Weston, the Y honored former and current military members during the 9th Annual Veterans Day Salute presented by Spirit Airlines at the Bonaventure Town Center in Weston. More than 400 attendees enjoyed breakfast and a presentation from this year’s keynote speaker, Captain Scott O’Grady. A decorated United States Air Force fighter pilot with more than 1,300 military flying hours, Captain O’Grady is most recognized for helping enforce the NATO no-fly zone policy over Bosnia. During the presentation, Captain O’Grady shared his gripping story of how he survived in hostile territory for six days after his F-16 was struck by a Soviet-made anti-craft missile. Among the other speakers at Friday’s Salute was Weston Mayor Peggy Brown and U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Chair of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee in the U.S. Congress. The event was live-streamed, as watch parties were held for members at each of the Y’s eight family centers with more than 100 people joining throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Our nation’s veterans are such a vital part of the freedoms we now enjoy, and it’s important that we all recognize this,” said YMCA of South Florida CEO Sheryl A. Woods. “It was an honor to have Captain O’Grady join us for this special week, sharing his amazing story with our guests and inspiring us to love our country even more. We are proud that our Veterans Day Salute highlights the many sacrifices made by our veterans while raising funds to support the needs of veteran and active-duty families in many ways.”
Closing the series of events that week, the Y’s monthly Wellness Weekend honored veterans with “Sweat for a Vet” on November 11 at each of the Y’s family centers throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties. For more than a century, the YMCA has been woven into the fabric of the South Florida community. As an award-winning nonprofit, the Y is committed to strengthening community through more than 200 programs serving everyone from six months old to 100 years young. Our Family Centers and programs are inclusive, vibrant hubs of community life, offering a diverse array of classes, cutting-edge fitness facilities, life-saving aquatics, exciting community events, unforgettable camps, supportive after-school care, and holistic health and wellness programming. At the Y, there’s something for everyone.