TAMPA, Fla — Since the birth of our nation, our troops have been revered for their bravery, sacrifice and patriotism.
But beyond the soldier in uniform is a family at home, tasked with dealing with the uncertain return of their loved ones. It’s an unimaginable sacrifice that families across the country undertake, and it’s all for our freedom.
That’s why the Armed Forces Families Foundation (AFFF) was created.
The nonprofit raises money to fund projects that support the families of our brave troops. It’s also where 100 percent of the proceeds raised at the annual Skyway 10K go.
To date, the race across Tampa Bay’s iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge has raised more than $1.2 million for the AFFF.
So, what does all that money go toward?
The AFFF has completed more than 40 permanent or semi-permanent infrastructure projects to benefit military families. The work is done entirely by volunteers.
One example is a recent project completed at Veterans Memorial Park in Tampa.
With a donation of more than $17,300, the AFFF opened five fitness stations along the Tampa Bypass Canal Trail at the park. The equipment includes a fitness bike, elliptical and a rowing machine.
How will this benefit military members and their families? Just take a glance at some of these numbers:
According to the AFFF website, Veterans Memorial Park attracts 100,000 visitors a year. The Veterans Service Office, located at the park, serves approximately 33,000 veterans, survivors and dependents with VA benefits.
With all of that traffic, much of it made up of people who served or have connections to those who serve, the equipment will enhance their experience for years to come.
But that’s just one of many examples.
Back in October, AFFF helped cover the cost of furnishing eight apartments at Poynter Preserves in Pinellas County for low-income or homeless veterans and their families. Over in Orlando, AFFF helped fund a nursing space for breastfeeding veteran mothers at the Orlando VA Hospital.
As you can see, from workout equipment to furnished homes, the projects that AFFF support are wide in scope. According to Nicholas Peters, the foundation’s founder, this is intentional.
“The projects purposefully fall into the areas of significant need that fall outside of the tight budget constraints of the military,” Peters writes on the AFFF website.
The projects only come to life, though, through the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of those who donate money. The Skyway 10K plays a big role in this.
Last year, the race raised $640,000 for the AFFF. This year is shaping up to be just as promising.
The Skyway 10K gets underway on Sunday, March 1. If you’d like more information on how you can get involved, click here.
If you want more information on the AFFF, click here.
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