A "Welcome Home"celebration for all past and present veterans will be held in Fort Myers on June 25. A motorcycle ride from Cape Coral will kick off the special event.
Tyler Araujo and his son, Spc. Michael Araujo, decided to try to make a difference for the veterans who are coming home by holding an event that will shed some light on the various organizations that provides assistance for soldiers.
"This is not about one individual," Tyler said about the event. "It is about all of our military service members."
Michael was injured while deployed in Afghanistan in 2009.
After he graduated from Mariner High School in 2008, Michael attended boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. In December 2008, he graduated from boot camp and military police training and was immediately sent to Fort Steward, Ga. He left for his deployment to Afghanistan on July 28, 2009, and was injured by an 18-ton IED explosive under his vehicle on Oct. 16, 2009.
He was awarded a Purple Heart in December while being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Tyler said his son is doing really well.
The free welcome home event will take place June 25, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., at Sun Sport Cycle and Watercraft located at 3441 Colonial Blvd., in Fort Myers.
A free escorted motorcycle ride by the Lee County Sheriff's Department and Fort Myers Police Department will take place from Cape Coral to Fort Myers. The ride will begin at 2411 Del Prado Blvd South to Sun Sports Cycle and Watercraft where the celebration will take place.
Those interested are asked to contact Tyler at 239-699-7707 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone will gather at 9:30 a.m. with the ride beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Tyler said Michael will be riding in the event with him on his bike. Sgt. John Sullo and Ronin Riding Club will also ride into the event next Saturday.
Tyler said the event means a lot to his son because the parents and brother of Sgt. Christopher Rudzinski are coming in for the event in remembrance.
An estimated 100-150 motorcycles are expected to participate in the bike ride as of Tuesday.
A color guard ceremony, the playing of "taps" and a 21-gun salute for the nation's fallen soldiers will open the event.
Five bands will perform during the celebration, including The Brew, Superbreed, Yazgars Farm, Underground and Sand Fleas.
The Florida Blood Bank will be at the event for those who wish to donate blood, along with pony rides for the kids.
Approximately 20 prizes have been donated by businesses for a raffle that will be held.
Tyler said some of the prizes include a one-night, two-day stay at Harbour House Hotel on Fort Myers Beach and a two-night stay at the Cape Coral Hampton Inn, along with numerous gift cards to local businesses.
He said if there is any profit accumulated during the event, it will be donated to an organization that provides services to soldiers.
The Disabled American Vets will be in attendance during the celebration to help veterans file claims, along with acting as their liaison if they do not have their DD 214 - discharge forms from the military.
The Veterans Foundation should also be at the event and representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project are hoping to attend. Tyler said he has already received an abundance of information he can pass out during the event from the Wounded Warriors Project.
"It's going to be a great event," he said. "It is open to anybody and everybody."
Vendors Boston Ale N Tail and Racks and Tails will provide food for the event.