• Benefit raises $18K, proceeds to veterans council

    More than 200 guests joined former lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll and Florida Senator Aaron Bean for a banquet and silent auction Saturday night to benefit the Baker County Veterans Council.

  • Page 16 THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS  Thursday, February 20, 2014

    Benefit raises $18K
    Proceeds to veterans council


    Former lieutenant governor Carroll.

    More than 200 guests joined former lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll and Florida Senator Aaron Bean for a banquet and silent auction Saturday night to benefit the Baker County Veterans Council.

    The council, formed in January 2012, helps local veterans and their families in many ways, whether it's driving vets to medical appointments, making home improvements or supplying information and referrals to veterans resources.

    Proceeds from the event, dubbed "Heart To Heart" and organized by the Baker County Women's Political Network, were to be split between the veterans council and Wounded Warrior Project, a Jacksonville-based charity focused on injured veterans. But, the network's Karen Love said, Wounded Warrior opted to donate its portion to the council.

    The nonprofit group will receive an estimated $18, 000 raised this year, a record figure for Heart To Heart. It's also well above the $11, 000 raised last year for a local youth's medical bills.

    "That's a pretty good jump in proceeds," said Ms. Love.

    The evening affair on February 15 at the Ag Center was the eighth year for Heart to Heart. Each year the women's political network selects a different cause to support.

    The night began about 5:30 with a social and preview of the silent auction items like hunting and fishing trip packages, artwork, cakes and symphony and theatre tickets.

    Ms. Love said the final head count for the banquet was 224 including cadets from the high school's JROTC program, who presented colors at the start of the program.

    "The event is always a sellout, but the waiting list was longer this year," said Ms. Love. "Next year we will probably have to move to a larger venue."

    A procession led by the cadets introduced the women's political network president Janet Harvin, its founder and fundraising chair Gedone Prachar, veterans council officials (Commander Milt O'Neal, Executive Officer Larry Porterfield, Treasurer Dan Masterson, Secretary Jim Palleschi and Chaplain John Joseph), Ms. Carroll, who emceed the program, and Sen. Bean, who led an emotional salute to the armed forces.

    "I salute and thank the organizations that salute and thank our veterans," said the senator before relaying his father's story.

    A paperwork error meant his father missed the D-Day landing and joined the allies later in the war.

    "He was scheduled to go out on D-Day with his unit," said Sen. Bean. "He was suited up ready to go in England."

    "It's fortunate because over 65 percent of the men that launched on that ship that day didn't come home, "he said before getting choked up speaking about his mother, who has been in the hospital of late, growing up with eight siblings and rarely going out to dinner.

    "As kids we don't realize there's a bill," said Sen. Bean. "Our country is the same way. We don't realize there's bill associated with freedom. We just take it for granted."

    That bill is paid with the lives of American service men and women, he said. Then the veterans of each branch of military were asked to stand for applause while a festive song from the band, Second Time Around, played.

    Ms. Carroll, herself a Navy veteran, spoke about the sacrifices of veterans and their families and important role communities play in supporting them after they come home.

    The program also featured a Missing Man Ceremony, led by Mr. O’Neil, which honors fallen soldiers.

    The silent auction closed the evening about 8 pm.

    Ms. Love said a painting donated by Park West Gallery was sold for the most cash, $400 but the Alhambra Theatre tickets and cakes were bought for "way over their actual value."

    The painting, called a limited edition seriolithograph by the gallery, was by Shan-Merry of France and titled "La Nuit du Quetzal."

    "The cake auction is one of the most fun parts of the auction with many selling for as high as $150 and more," Ms. Love said.

    BCHS JROTC cadets Hayley Cook(left front), Ashli Knapp and Dustin Smith Present the colors.
    Not visible is cadet Atley Wood.
    Milt O'Neil of the veterans council.
    More than 200 people attended the banquet and auction
    State Senator Aaron Bean
    Veterans council officers(l-r Jim Palleschi, Larry Porterfield, Dan Masterson and Mr. O'Neil with former lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll.)

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