PDT Staff Writer
Scores of area nursing home veterans found themselves some shade under a few shelters, and shared stories with fellow veterans Wednesday at the Shawnee Boat Club, thanks to James Dickey Post 23 of the American Legion, lots of area businesses and regular citizens who all worked together to make it possible.
“We’re honoring the veterans who live in nursing homes, and most especially the folks who take care of them,” said Jim Saddler of Post 23, one of the organizers. “Those are mighty important people, our caregivers. Without them, our men and women who served would be in deep trouble.”
Saddler remembers how the tradition started.
“I think this is our 18th or 19th year for the picnic,” Saddler said. “We started our Christmas program a couple of years before. And somebody came up with the idea, why don’t we have a summer picnic?”
Saddler said the first was held at the 40 & 8 picnic area behind Post 23, but decided to expand it the next year, and that is when the Shawnee Boat Club became involved.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of people from this boat club that turn out down here for this program,” Saddler said. “Monday we probably had 50 to 60 boat club members cutting grass, killing weeds, putting up tents, and doing whatever work needed to be done. Tuesday, again they turned out to make all the final arrangements. Then, this morning at about 7:30-8:00 they started drifting back in to start cutting up the melons, setting up the chairs and tables. Shawnee Boat Club really does a great job.”
Shawnee Boat Club trustee Greg Dillow agreed that the club members did a lot of work getting ready for the veterans.
“We just wanted things to look the best for everybody, and to try to make everybody feel comfortable and as welcome as possible,” Dillow said.
Fans, food, drinks and prizes were donated by several businesses and members of the community. Much of those donations were gathered by the Bikers for Charity.
“The Bikers for Charity had a little fundraiser here about a month ago, and they came up with quite a bit of money that will fund this picnic in its entirety,” Saddler said.
Shawnee Boat Club Commodore Darrell Ramey was busy flipping hamburgers on the grill.
“Jim and Jane (Saddler) got us involved back in the beginning and we’ve been doing it ever since,” Ramey said. “It’s a very good thing. We enjoy having the veterans here. It gives them a chance to get out and enjoy themselves, and enjoy the river a little bit. That’s why we do what we do.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.