By Marie Gilmore
In April, Honor Flight of West Central Florida took its 25th mission to Washington, D.C. for the day. On board this flight were 74 WWII and Korean War Veterans, each escorted by a family member or a member of the community assigned to be their guardian for the day.
On a picture-perfect afternoon, more than 150 people boarded a chartered Allegiant Air flight out of St. Pete/Clearwater Airport and headed for D.C. Upon arrival, about 9 a.m. The group was escorted directly onto buses and off to the Air Force Memorial for lunch. The next stop for the group was the World War II Memorial where the veterans took time to walk through the memorial and reminisce about battles fought and friends left behind. Final stop for the day was the Lincoln Memorial with stops at the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.
In addition to being a special day, this was also a special mission because it was funded by a local small business, Cardinal Roofing and Solar Technologies.
Bridget Jenkins Wilson and her father Roger Jenkins, along with Chad Curchin, owners of Cardinal Roofing in Valrico, hosted the Third Annual Shoot for Those Who Shot for US in February at FishHawk Sporting Clays in Lithia. Wilson and Jenkins began their involvement with the charity after being introduced to Honor Flight through other local businesses; Chick-fil-A Lake Brandon Village, Dynamic Painting USA, Canine Cabana, Rob Z Fitness and the Osprey Observer. After being guardians on an October 2013 flight, Wilson said, “We were so inspired by it that when we got back, we decided to make Honor Flight Cardinal Roofing’s philanthropic focus.”
This year, Cardinal Roofing partnered with Southeastern Metals, a Gibraltar Industries Company, who offered to be a matching sponsor. They matched, dollar for dollar, funds raised on the Sporting Clays day which was enough to fund the corporate donation portion of an entire flight, $30,000. The rest of the flight was funded by the guardians who donated $400 for the opportunity to be a guardian and which ensures that all veterans fly free.
“Cardinal Roofing is humbled by the amount of love and support our community has given us in our fundraising efforts for Honor Flight; with community involvement small businesses can really make a difference,” said Bridget.
Honor Flight of West Central Florida was established in 2010 and flies veterans to Washington D.C. to see their memorials. Contact Bridget Jenkins Wilson, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 689-ROOF to get involved in future events. To register for an upcoming Honor Flight, visit www.honorflightwcf.org.