Not even the icy cold rain kept the community from honoring the six veterans taking part in the annual River Bottom Sportsmen's 2018 Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) 2018 Black Powder Hunt.
Students, bikers, police and firemen, local leaders, and community members braved the damp weather in a show of welcome and respect to the six U.S. Military Veterans.
Miami choir students sang in the rain wearing plastic raincoats, and the Commerce High School, Middle School and Alexander Elementary School choir students under the direction of Choir and Band Instructor Jason Dunn provided patriotic music for the event.
“I told Mr. Dunn the students could wait inside the building and didn't need to get out in this cold rain. Mr. Dunn said, 'Jack I don't think there's anything you could do to stop them.' It was beautiful,” event organizer Jack Dalrymple said. That’s our community!”
The six U.S. Veterans honored this year were Kenny Lloyd, Renona Crowden, Jon “ Mark” Cunningham, Monty Zwanziger, Wil Ramb and Ace Wright .
The River Bottom Sportsmen's event supported by the community and local businesses was created to honor U.S. Veterans from all branches of military service and has been an annual event since 2008.
The veterans are treated to lodging, food, hunting, and entertainment in an expression of gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
The first night in Miami, the hunters were greeted by the community during a four-course dinner provided by Buffalo Run Casino at the Coleman House Restaurant.
One of River Bottom Sportsmen’s organizers and volunteers, Jamie Williams, thanked all involved, including Jack and Rosie Dalrymple for the use of their hunting land, the PVA’s Bill Kokendoffer and the veterans for their service.
“This is priceless,” Williams said.
Williams told those in attendance that the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) has generously expanded the available hunting grounds for the hunt from 1,500 to 3,000 GRDA controlled acres.
The organization and Northeastern A& M awards scholarships each year of $1,000 during the dinner to veterans attending the college.
The generosity of donors and hard work has also allowed for several improvements to the Dalrymple Farm hunt site including added kitchen and bathroom facilities, new more accessible trailers and hunting blinds, and the organization’s official designation as a 501 3c non-profit charitable entity, according to Williams.
Commerce Pastor Leroy Orr blessed the meal and prayed for safe and bountiful hunt and fellowship for all.
Each year guides lead by Bob Eads, assist the veteran hunters if needed with adapted equipment and deer stands to provide an exhilarating outdoor adventure for these well-deserving men and women.
Eads thanked each of the volunteer guides who make the hunt possible every year.
“From the bottom of my heart I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it,” Eads said.
Past veteran hunters made some special presentations of gratitude to their guides.
“I’ve got to tell you, this little town puts on such a great event,” said Joe Fox, a veteran from the 2012 hunt. “Right here, in this little town, America is great!”
Fox said seeing the local firemen standing and students singing in the rain at the opening ceremony was inspiring.
“That’s America!” he said.
The River Bottom Sportsmen's yearlong combined leadership, organization, dedication and drive spurs the sponsorship of local businesses and organizations and efforts and work of volunteers to make the annual event truly a community endeavor.