Fort Worth, Texas – During special ceremonies on Saturday, October 11, 2008, at Sky Ball VI, an annual event hosted at Alliance Field by American Airlines and the Fort Worth Airpower Foundation - and through the efforts of the Lakeway Patriot Fund Committee (LPF) and America’s Huey 091 Foundation (091) - iBOT Mobility Systems number sixteen and seventeen were presented to wounded warriors Elias Reyes, US Army, and CW4 Gary Linfoot, US Army.
The event was high-lighted by film and television actor Gary Sinise reciting the names of some three-dozen Texans who lost their lives fighting the Global War on Terror (GWOT) this past year.
This coming Saturday (October 18, 2008) marks one-year since the LPF committee planned and executed the Lakeway Patriot-Fest on the grounds of Lakeway City Hall, in celebration of their initial donation of an iBOT to Lakeway’s first adopted wounded-warrior and Iraq war veteran Eric Jordon. Until then, the committee couldn’t have imagined that the same evening they would also adopt a second veteran, Iraq war veteran and Round Rock resident Alan Babin, thanks to the unexpected generosity of the citizens of Lakeway over a brief period of less than three-months. At a cost of $25,000 each, the LPF has since been directly responsible for presenting over ten iBOT units to seriously wounded or injured soldiers.
Sky Ball VI began at 6:55 p.m. and was held in the American Airlines maintenance hangar at Alliance Field. The spotless hangar - at least as large as the hangar bays of a United States Navy nuclear aircraft carrier and equally as tall - was filled with over one hundred circular-tables capable of seating ten dinner guests at each table.
Opening ceremonies included patriotic music by the 100-plus-member Colleyville Heritage High School Panther Marching Band, the 301st Air Force Color Guard, and a special performance by the Cactus Cuties singing the National Anthem.
The event-filled evening included a special welcome by American Airlines CEO and President Gerard Arpey, the introduction of World War II veterans, Medal of Honor recipients, the Tuskegee Airmen, and combat veterans of all other armed conflicts as well as the families of currently deployed troops.
Country-music duo Vandal Snook, two very talented musicians familiar to the Lakeway Patriot Fund family over the past year, paid a special tribute to all iBOT Mobility System recipients, as well as all veterans returning from recent combat deployments.
A symbolic check in the amount of $5174.00 was presented to Rosie Babin, Round Rock resident and mother of Lakeway’s second iBOT recipient Alan Babin, for her inspirational efforts in sending the message to all regarding the special needs of our seriously wounded warriors. The check, donated by the Austin chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, was turned over to Jim Palmersheim, director of 091, for the purchase of future iBOTs.
GWOT widow and single mother Natalie Craver explained to an inspired audience the importance of the American Airlines sponsored Snowball Express, an annual program that transports the survivors of service men and women killed during the GWOT to Disneyland.
Closing Sky Ball VI at approximately 10:45 p.m. were, once again, the Cactus Cuties singing more inspirational music, along with Nashville recording star of USO shows world wide, Michael Peterson.
Looking back on the efforts of the LPF committee over the past year brings to mind that with a worthwhile common goal set by a group of extremely determined individuals, just about anything can be accomplished; and the beat-goes-on, thanks to American Airlines and their never-ending logistical generosity.