Hurricane Charley devastated the Southwest Florida coast. Nationwide, the news focused on Punta Gorda, Florida in Charlotte County. Punta Gorda is the hub of NAAR's Southwest Florida presence. All of our prayers at the National office were with Southwest Florida the weekend of August 14/15. While none of NAAR's committee members were injured, homes were destroyed and damaged.
Sharon Boyd, co-chair of the Southwest Florida walk committee, received news immediately after the hurricane that her son's school had been closed due to storm damage. Phones and electricity, and the internet connections we have come to depend on, were non-existent for days after the storm.
The week after the Hurricane the Southwest Florida Walk committee was to hold three kickoffs for their October 2nd Walk in Punta Gorda. The kickoff location in Punta Gorda as decimated. Fort Myers was “possible”. The Walk site itself was questionable. The kickoff location in Sarasota was okay – and the kickoff was scheduled for Wednesday. Flying down to Sarasota after the storm on Monday to speak at the kickoff, Marcy Wenning, NAAR's Greater Boston Walk Co Chair and member of the New England Board of Directors, arrived to find that the committee was unsure if they could go forward with the kickoff with all that was still unsettled. Marcy sprang into action and called the National office (as we were still unable to speak by phone or email with the SWF group) and volunteered to do the kickoff alone if she needed to. Three days later, with members of the SWF committee, the group held the kickoff in Sarasota.
This achievement demonstrated teamwork, resolve and commitment, and for that NAAR is grateful to have such determined individuals on our team.
A few weeks later, Hurricane Frances battered the Southeast coast of Florida.
While no kickoffs were missed or walk sites damaged, the residents of Florida were again battered and bruised – and when the power returned their commitment to NAAR was stronger than ever.
NAAR greatly appreciates the drive and determination of its volunteers and we warmly acknowledge their commitment to our cause.