Take nothing away from the celebration of Veterans Days on Nov. 11. It’s a special day for all of us to reflect and give thanks to those who serve our nation and protect our freedom. The fact that it happens only once a year probably isn’t close to enough, but at least it’s something.
Of course, with the exception of Florida, the boating season is pretty much over by early November, which means there aren’t any major “organized” go-fast boating events in honor of Veterans Day. But year-round, the go-fast boating community—a patriotic and generous group by nature—does have several big organized events in honor of our military men and women. Take the Support Our Troops Poker Run on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri in June, for example. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the 2017 event, which was started by Ed Champion of Big Thunder Marine, attracted 106 boats—hosting 20-plus military members—and raised $29,000 for the H.E.R.O.E.S. Care program in Fenton, Mo. The program provides complete and proactive support for members of all branches of the military and their families through pre-deployment, deployment, family reintegration and post-deployment.
From Performance Boat Center to Poly Lift Boat Lifts, local business supported the event. But the keys to success for Support Our Troops are, as always in such charitable endeavors, are the volunteers.
“We can’t wait for next year,” said Amber Grisham, the event’s promoter. “This is always an amazing event. We love being able to give back to the military men and women who have given so much for us.”
June, as it happened, was a big month for go-fast powerboating when it came to events supporting veterans. The New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club gave rides to more than 100 veterans through its annual Operation Shore Fun event the day after its Atlantic City Powerboat Rally. Just outside of Nashville, Tenn., the Old Hickory Fun Run raised $15,000 for Operation Stand-Down Tennessee.
Among the many other go-fast boating events supporting veteran’s causes this season was the outstanding was the seventh annual Arcuri For SUDS Fundraiser in Brick brought in $100,000 for the charity, a record for the daylong event, which included a catered lunch and dinner, live entertainment and high-performance powerboats rides for the veterans and their families. SUDS is an acronym Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba, a 10-year-old program for veterans that according to the nonprofit organization’s website “gives permanently disabled service members the opportunity to try a challenging and rewarding activity that can help facilitate the rehabilitation process and be an activity that they can enjoy for years to come.”
“It was probably one of the greatest events we’ve had, and that had a lot to do with the veterans being here,” said Nick Arcuri, the driving force behind the event. “The SUDS program means a lot to them. It builds their confidence. The day was beautiful, the boat rides were excellent and the receivables were the highest we’ve ever had. I couldn’t ask for more.
“I look at is as an opportunity,” he added. “We’re lucky to be involved.”
All of these events celebrating and supporting our veterans will happen again next year. That doesn’t make Veterans Day any less worth celebrating important. It’s just that in the performance-boating world, days devoted to veterans happen often during the season—as they should.