• Hugh T Gregory American Legion Post 63

"Winter Garden to Host 5th Annual Challenge 22 Walk and Picnic to Help End Veteran Suicide"



NOVEMBER 9, 2021


CELL PHONE: 407-719-7611 / 407-701-9416

EMAIL: Americanlegion63@cfl.rr.com

WEBSITE: www.Challenge22Walk.com

Winter Garden to Host 5th Annual Challenge 22 Walk and Picnic to Help End Veteran Suicide

WINTER GARDEN, FL. NOV. 13, 2021 -- On Saturday November 13th from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm, the American Legion, with support from the City of Winter Garden will host the 5th Annual Challenge 22 Ruck-Walk and Picnic at Veteran's Memorial Park located on Park Ave and Story Rd. The purpose of this event is to help bring awareness to the community about the veteran suicide epidemic in this country (22 suicides per day) and to raise funds for the treatment of veterans who are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).

The Winter Garden American Legion Post 63 has a goal this year to raise $100,000 for the

programs that treat veterans physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially. Challenge 22 is one of the main fundraisers for this mission. By asking the community to participate for a $22 donation (register online at www.Challenge22Walk.com) and local businesses for donations and sponsorships, the post-walk picnic offers a great time for all — complete with raffle prizes, silent auction bidding, delicious food (catered for free by professional event caterer, Julie Hughes), drinks, merchandise sales, face-painting, hay rides, marshmallow launcher games, corn hole, a Gymnastics USA Ninja course and many other activities for kids and families to enjoy. Raffle prizes include gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, spa packages and more, all of which have been donated by local businesses and will be acknowledged as veteran supporters at the event. Additionally, silent auction items include some grand items such as a few 3-day beach getaways, a fabulous swivel recliner from Remington Furniture and a year’s worth of personal training valued at more than $1,000 each, and more.

Additional tickets may be purchased throughout the day at the ticket counter and will be used in lieu of cash. Credit cards and Venmo will be accepted.

There will be live entertainment and music by the Josh Gilbert Band (Family Friendly Rock and Blues), and Billy Flanagan, a 40-year Disney performer bringing their energy and talent to the stage. “It's a powerful and passionate event for the whole family to enjoy with patriotic pride as we raise money, awareness and get educated about some amazing protocols being used to clear depression and PTS symptoms. (formally referred to as PTSD)”, says Flanagan who will be the event MC this year, “I hope to see all of the Winter Garden community there!” Additionally The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) will be setting up a 47-foot replica of the Viet Nam memorial wall and also the War on Terror memorial wall for the community and veterans to pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

The format of the event appeals to all ages and interests, beginning with an opening ceremony at 10:00 am, walk at 11:00 am, picnic and entertainment from 12 pm – 3 pm. The opening ceremony is the time that veterans are honored, and the community is educated about PTS and the protocols and treatments that are currently being used to clear PTS symptoms. It is also a visual display of patriotism by local Sea Cadets, JROTC members, American Legionnaires, and talented civilians as they perform an official flag retirement ceremony, a mock graveside memorial service, including a formal rifle volley, a flag presentation, the national anthem, and more. Winter Garden’s American Legion commander, Kurt Gies, will briefly speak about the suicide epidemic, with a focus on which treatment programs and services are currently available to our veterans, and recap some of the success stories that have come to pass since the first Challenge 22 event.

Concluding the opening ceremonies, event partner, Gymnastics USA, will preview an exciting aerial exhibition and walkers will be encouraged to “salute-a-vet" (similar to a shout out used at sporting events). With a $5 donation, the community is invited to pay tribute to any veteran they desire by writing his or her name on a card for display throughout the event, and for those not afraid of the microphone, dedications may also be announced from the stage.

This year, the American Legion Post 63 is also offering a “virtual option” to participate. By signing up on their website, anyone in the world can do their part to help end veteran suicide. “We’d love to have someone from each of the 50 states participate with us.” says Commander Gies. “So, if you have a family member, friend or co-worker who lives outside of the area, please encourage them to join us!” Exact details on how to participate virtually are on the website, which has recently been updated to simplify the process.

Raffle and Silent Auction items also being accepted up until the event! Easy to submit an item at www.bit.ly/C222021. Info and registration available at www.Challenge22walk.com . For additional information, call or text Kurt Gies at 407-701-9416, or email americanlegion63@cfl.rr.com.


A “Ruck” walk is a military term that service members use when they travel long distances on foot; typically, in full combat gear, with 50-80 pound “Ruck sack” on their backs. This walk is a scaled-down version, where the community joins in on a 2.2 mile route, with some giving “rucking” a shot while most walk in street clothes or PT gear. Departing from Veterans Memorial Park onto Story Rd walkers will head east 3 blocks to Dillard St, north to Plant St, then west to Park Ave. and south back to the park. Throughout the walk, a video display truck will promote the event and encourage spectators to follow participants back to the event site, where the festivities and fundraiser will get underway. “It's such an impressive scene,” says Commander Gies, reflecting on previous events, “to witness families with their strollers, couples, businesses in matching company attire, veterans old and young in uniform carrying their ruck sacks, military flags, some with dogs, others riding in golf carts, many dedicating the walk to a loved one who just lost hope...all marching the streets of Winter

Garden together. It says a lot to a veteran who may be struggling with finding their place back into daily life.”

WORLD WAR II Veterans turn 99 and 100 years old

At 2 pm during the Challenge 22 event at Veterans Park, a special birthday tribute will be going out to two WWII veterans, Mel Jenner and Gilbert Waganheim who will be turning 99 and 100 years old that week!

Cake, balloons and a musical tribute will be part of the celebration. “We are drawing near to the end of a legacy of veterans, and we are honored that two of them will be here at our event! I am so looking forward to shaking their hands!” Says Austin Arthur, co-owner and founder of event sponsor, Gymnastics USA.

To learn more about the event and how you can participate physically, virtually, financially or even by sharing socially with the hashtag #challenge22vet, go to www.Challenge22Walk.com . Info and registration available at www.Challenge22walk.com . For additional information, call or text Kurt Gies at 407-701-9416, or email americanlegion63@cfl.rr.com.

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