5 years and growing! It seems like yesterday when we first met Natasha Heykoop out in a small grassy field, that really didn't even have an address on Getty Street in Muskegon to talk about a memorial car show for her brother in law who was lost to suicide due to PTSD from his time in the military. The devastation of this is the reality has been an increasing reality since 2016 to families of former people who served in the military. It's an awful subject to have to discuss, but it can't just be whispered about and swept under the rug any longer. Some deal with the grief of the loss of a loved one with memories in their heart while others see an opportunity to make a difference for someone else and take their tragedy and make it a rally point for those who might need a hand, but are not sure where to begin. Well, with Lighthouse for Veterans, a big part of it began in that little field that really didn't have an address with a small car show and some hot dogs on the grill for those who showed up.
Today, the Lighthouse of Veterans Car Show is held on the expansive grounds of the Mart Dock in Muskegon. The grill with hot dogs has been replaced by multiple food trucks. The mission has grown from raising some awareness and remembering a lost family member to an outreach for not only the vets, but a program that teaches family members to know what signs to look for when it comes to the possibility of someone they know suffering from PTSD to when it's time to really heed the warnings of a potential suicide attempt. On top of all that, with the fundraising events that Lighthouse for Veterans is able to book retreats for vets and help them build a web of security among peers who can understand what they are going through better than no one else. This is the best example of humanity taking care of itself that comes along. Humans are remarkable in the fact that if they determine a path and if they commit to making a change, generally it can happen.
So, 5 years strong and even surviving the pandemic mess of 2020 which was a cruise instead of a car show, the first weekend in July is saved in Muskegon to honor, remember and help sustain an organization who's outreach means so much to so many and who's work is saving countless lives as well as countless heartache from the tragedy of suicide and the aftermath that it leaves behind from those who remain. The boots on the ground remain the same, Natasha Heykoop and family work year after year to grow this event. The also find ways to entice you down with awesome prizes, raffles, entertainment and all you'd expect, and Natasha and I caught up with the amazing back drop of the Mart Dock and the berth of the LST 393 there to talk about year 5. Take a listen.
As Natasha said in our talk. Turn a tragedy into a triumph. There's no better way to honor a memory. The first weekend in July is busy and it's going to be REALLY busy minus all the restrictions and limits we had to deal with last Summer. Find some time to swing by the Mart Dock and enjoy the car show. If you've got a car, show up and show it off. I hear too there may be some surprises by the way of super cool big rigs for the kids and a lot more going on too! Our thanks to Natasha and her crew for always giving us a chance to share their story, to learn more. Click below.