QUINCY -- Organizers held a news conference Wednesday morning at Outdoor Power Inc. in Quincy to announce the second annual Heroes at Heartland event, which will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at Harpole's Heartland Lodge near Nebo.
The Great River Economic Development Foundation and its local and national partners hope to build on the success of last year's inaugural Heroes at Heartland event, which raised $8,500 for the Great River Honor Flight and Tri-State Warriors.
Heroes at Heartland honors veterans and active military personnel by offering a free day of outdoor activities, including off-road riding, trapshooting, archery and a barbecue lunch. More than 75 people volunteered to work the event last year, and about 200 military personnel and their families attended.
This year, special guests Brian and Melissa Fisher from Fisher's ATV World plan to attend and spend time with guests.
"It's really a way that the community can show our vets how important they are to us," GREDF President Marcel Wagner said before last year's inaugural event. "It's very therapeutic for them to realize that people care so much about what they did. Even though it's been many years after their service, taking the time to say thank you to a veteran still has an incredible impact."
WGEM General Manager Carlos Fernandez said donations like the one made with proceeds from last year's event have helped 1,575 veterans fly to Washington, D.C., over the 10 years since the Honor Flight was created.
"I've never lived in a community that supports its veterans as much as this one does," Fernandez said.
Glenn Swick of Tri-State Warrior Outreach said his organization's goal is to assist area veterans with their unmet needs. Swick said last year's donation had a tremendous affect on the lives of people with whom his organization works.
Heroes at Heartland is also directly aligned with efforts to compile a database of contact information of local veterans so knowledge of future events and other opportunities that benefit veterans can be shared. The database, dubbed "We Salute You," already has 100 veterans and is continually being expanded.
"It's a way for us to get in contact with younger veterans," Wagner said. "It's a way for GREDF to help enhance the workforce and local companies at the same time."
Registration is required to attend Heroes at Heartland. For more information, call Joi Cuartero Austin at GREDF at 217-223-4313 or go to heroesatheartland.us.