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A few seats left for this year’s 9/11 memorial breakfast

Bill DeYoung

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Party of 800, your table is ready!

Wednesday, Sept. 5 is the deadline to reserve a seat at St. Pete’s biggest breakfast of the year. Taking place next Tuesday, Sept. 11 at the St. Petersburg Coliseum, Remember Honor Support is an annual event honoring America’s military, first responders and the others who’ve pledged to do whatever is necessary to keep us safe.

“There are three components: Honoring our military, honoring our first responders and honoring the family members of the fallen,” points out Jo Brower, executive director of Remember Honor Support, Inc.

Yes, it takes place on 9/11 for a reason.

It’s the sixth annual RHS event; the 501©3 nonprofit has raised nearly half a million dollars for charity since 2012. This year’s recipients are the West Central Florida Chapter of Concerns For Police Survivors, and the Warrior Sailing Program.

Past beneficiaries have included the Gold Shield Foundation, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and Southeastern Guide Dogs’ Paws For Patriots.

At the 2016 event, Jo Brower receives a city proclamation for 9/11 First Responder Week. From left: St. Petersburg police chief Anthony Holloway, Brower, Mayor Rick Kriseman and Captain Fran Glenn Warner, Jr. of Tampa Fire & Rescue, a Gold Shield recipient.

“Our service is to educate and bring awareness to the post- never ending needs of those that are out there,” Brower explains. “And really, it’s the next generation of nonprofits that actually provide the particular service to our wounded warriors and the families of the fallen.”

Through its community outreach programs, RHS contributes monies for mental health support (including PTSD and TBIs), rehabilitation and therapeutic equipment and accessible housing. “It’s important to bring community to military, and military to community,” Brower believes.

“I have a beautiful relationship with MacDill, and with our responders, because they know it’s genuine. They know we’re not opportunists; it comes from the heart.”

Retired Special Forces veteran Scott Neil is the guest speaker for 2018. Neil was one of the first to lead the Direct Action and Counter-Terrorism charge into Afghanistan following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

“I’m a true patriot with purpose and passion,” says Brower, who has an extensive background in marketing and management. In 2011, she and her fiancé, John Stross, helped the local Daughters of the American Revolution organize their 9/11 10-year anniversary prayer breakfast.

“We were thinking maybe 250 people,” reflects Brower. “We sold out at 350. And people were walking out the door saying ‘Wow. Where do we sign up for next year?’”

With the DAR’s full blessing and support, the couple created their own event in 2012; the first RHS breakfast (“prayer” was eventually dropped from the name) was held at the Vinoy.

Since 2013, it’s been at the Coliseum.

Brower has found her calling as the organizer of her city’s largest patriotic event. She admits she was lost following the death of her 19-year-old son, Barry Weiler, in a 2003 motorcycle accident.

She and Stross, the co-owner of Leverock’s restaurant, had dated decades ago, and re-discovered one another later in life.

She learned the intrinsic value of philanthropy from her new fiancé, who sat on the board of directors of Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) and helped organize their fundraisers.

Just before the 2014 Remember Honor Support breakfast, Stross, 71, succumbed to cancer. “So I had a lot of heavy-duty decisions to make,” Brower says. “This gave me purpose, because I lost my treasure. And there are so many out there that have lost their loved ones due to war.”

They had only moved into their dream home a month before. “He had a wonderful, kind spirit,” Brower says softly.

Table sponsorships are available, at varying levels, as are individual seats. Register, and learn more, here.

Remember Honor Support produces two other events during the year – bike-ride benefits over Memorial Day and Veterans Day weekends – but the 9/11 production – the “Patriot Day Memorial Breakfast” – is the one that everybody talks about, starting every Sept. 12.

“It’s important,” Brower declares, “to remember those we’ve lost, and keep their memories alive. It’s not about us, it’s about them.

“And it’s important to let everybody in that audience know that it’s OK to honor them and remember them, and they’re not alone. We’re in this together. Sooner or later, we’re all in the same pot.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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