By Larry F. Hart
Buckmasters American Deer Foundation’s community charity banquet season kicked off in style with the Heart of Florida Chapter in Ocala, Fla.
The chapter, chaired by Tinsley Ashley, along with chapter volunteers, hosted the first BADF Charity Banquet of 2015 at the Ocala Florida National Guard Armory Saturday, July 27.
Over 200 sportsmen and women attended to show their support for the wonderful projects this chapter does for its community. Everyone enjoyed a fun filled evening of great Southern barbecue, a live auction, and raffles and games to raise funds to support those community projects.
The Heart of Florida Chapter touched the hearts of all who attended as the Young Marines Color Guard opened the ceremony. They marched proudly with our United States flag and the Young Marines flag to set the stage for a wonderful tribute to our veterans.
The chapter set up an empty table with the chairs leaned back and unfolded, with five tabletop US flags at half-mast in tribute to the fallen Marines brutally gunned down in Chattanooga in July. After a few moments of silence to honor them, the chapter also thanked all the veterans in attendance for their service to our country with a tribute poem and pendant presentation.
It was very special to me to witness the support for this chapter and the special tributes and patriotism that was shown for the military veterans of our country.
Testimonials were also presented by the wounded veterans and disabled hunters that this chapter sponsored for hunts in 2014. They spoke of how these outdoor events helped them to forget and get through some very difficult times in their lives, and gave them hope to overcome their disabilities.
No one could help becoming overcome by tears of emotion as they told their stories and thanked Mr. Ashley and the volunteers of the Heart of Florida Chapter for making their dreams come true.
This is what being a BADF volunteer in your community is about. Volunteers make dreams come true for so many of our veterans and disabled, help our community food banks with Project Venison and Food for the Hungry, aid youth projects such as hunter education and outdoor adventures to pass own our proud sportsman heritage to those who will keep passing it on for generations to come.
Hats off to the BADF Heart of Florida Chapter for having a great event and showing those attending what your chapter is all about—“Compassion, Community and Conservation”—and giving back to those less fortunate or need a hand up, and making dreams come true. God bless you all!
Larry F. Hart
Buckmasters American Deer Foundation