Muskegon Metro Area News
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Let you in on a secret?  One of the greatest benefits of doing what we do is the ability to see the seedling of an idea come along.  It begins usually with a note, or a message asking if we'd be interested in covering an upstart event and helping spread the word.  We generally give it a little kick off because local media should be a conduit for such an adventuresome endeavor and then it's up to the organization to continue to make it happen.  It's hard.  It's a difficult task to bring a need forward.  It's hard to find sponsors, funding, activities and an audience to come back time and time again.  When it all falls together perfectly however, the world begins to change for the better.  Such is the story of Natasha Heykoop and the Lighthouse for Veterans.  


The loss of her brother in law to suicide was the moment that brought her to the understanding that something had to be done.  The most current numbers we could find for the Veteran suicide rate are numbers from 2021 where 6392 Veterans took their own lives.  It's a devastating figure and when it hits so close to home, and a family built on their close ties and togetherness, it's a loss beyond measure.  It's in the understanding that losing one is all it takes to spark a movement where the Lighthouse for Veterans began.  8 years in, things have grown, work continues and the size and scope of the group and their purpose is continuing to honor the fallen by turning the greatest tragedy into a triumph. 

The car show is the big fundraiser yearly.  They have also expanded into golf outings and some winter activities that you'll hear Natasha talk about.  This years big show is expecting 400 or more cars, motorcycles, trucks and specialty vehicles and of course all you love about one of Muskegon's massive car shows.  There will be food vendors, and entertainment and of course a cruise that will show off the remarkable lakeshore to all of those on the ride.  Once back, the day long affair is open to the public to stroll through to not only see the cars, but learn more about the purpose of Lighthouse for Veterans, their work and how you can help if someone is struggling from PTSD related mental illness.  Natasha is certified in training when it comes to first aid in that area.  Part of her commitment to making sure that all avenues are open to avoid this kind of hurt and loss again.

It's $10 for cars in advance to register, $20 the day of and of course, they will be accepting donations at the event.  We began working with this group when this event started.  To think of the crockpot of hotdogs and sloppy joes back on year one, and to now see a state wide organization that's grown to prominence advocating for mental health, our Veterans and their well being and to know it all began right here....... this is why we work.  Take a moment to admire the passion and commitment shown by the Lighthouse for Veterans and the Heykoop Family. 


lighthouse vets