11-1 n_YMCAVeteransPrayerBreakfast2023.jpg: The 17th annual YMCA Veterans Prayer Breakfast will be held on Nov. 3 at the Craig and Steven Hogan Family YMCA in Madison. Larry Vannoy, at lectern, Commander of Madison American Legion, Post 229 spoke to a previous breakfast. CONTRIBUTED

Hogan Family YMCA to host Veterans Prayer Breakfast

MADISON – A special day is approaching when the community honors individuals who have served in the military.

A local tradition, the 17th annual YMCA Veterans Prayer Breakfast will be held on Nov. 3 at the Craig and Steven Hogan Family YMCA in Madison.

“We’re honored to host the veterans’ breakfast at our YMCA facility in Madison,” Jennifer Dykes said. Dykes is Marketing and Communications Director at Heart of the Valley YMCA. “This event holds a special place in our hearts as we come together to express our deepest appreciation for the veterans who have dedicated their lives to protect our freedoms.”

The event has a unifying atmosphere, according to Jean Downs, who serves as Vice Commander of Madison American Legion, Post 229 and as President of American Legion, Post 229 Auxiliary. “The veteran community in North Alabama is a very large and diverse one.”

Despite its size, the veterans are “a tight-knit community of individuals and organizations that share the common purpose of serving and honoring fellow veterans,” Downs said. “The annual Veterans Prayer Breakfast brings together all of these various organizations to kick-off a week of remembrance, celebration and recognition for our fellow veterans.”

“Listening to the speakers, being prayed for and honored by members of our community always create a very heartening and emotional experience that we (anticipate),” Downs said.

The breakfast kicks off Veterans Week in the Tennessee Valley with the theme, “Courage, Sacrifice and Duty – Honoring our Military Veterans.” Doors will open at 6:45 a.m. for check-in and coffee social. The program will begin at 7:30 a.m.

LTG Christopher O. Mohan will give the keynote address. Mohan is Deputy Commanding General, Army Materiel Command, and Senior Commander on Redstone Arsenal. K.C. Bertling, President of the Veterans Coalition, will emcee. The event will include musical performances, a heartfelt prayer ceremony and an award presentation.

Veterans can contact the YMCA to request a free ticket, while these last.

For advance tickets through Nov. 1, call 256-428-9622, ext. 3008, email events@ymcahuntsville.org or visit ymcahuntsville.org/VETERANS. Individual tickets are $35.

Especially in the Tennessee Valley, Veterans Week offers a full schedule — from school assemblies to luncheons, dinners and parades. “The entire week can become an exhausting whirlwind of activities, so it’s nice to have the annual Veterans Prayer Breakfast to kick-off Veterans Week at home here in the City of Madison,” Downs said.

“Hogan Family YMCA does a fantastic job preparing for and hosting this event every year,” she said. “We’re grateful for their support to the military and veterans’ community — not only during Veterans Week but throughout the year.”

“The City of Madison, our educators and youth organization leaders do such a fantastic job honoring our servicemen and women during Veterans Week. All the schools, our Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and JROTC units show an incredible amount of support by placing flags on graves, providing hundreds of cards and letters, and donating gifts for local veterans,” Downs said.

“As an American Legion Post, and Madison’s only veterans’ organization, we truly look forward to participating in the assemblies and parades that our city schools host,” Downs said. “It’s very heartwarming to see the children out waving American flags, holding signs and showing, not only their appreciation to our veterans, but demonstrating the patriotism that is so critical to our society.”

Event proceeds will benefit the YMCA Military Outreach Program, which offers support to local veterans and their families.

Heart of the Valley YMCA has ongoing dedication to serving the whole family and provides complimentary memberships for soldiers, both before and after deployment. Their families can receive free membership while their loved one is away.

In addition, the Y offers free summer camp and respite childcare for families of deployed military personnel. In 2022, the Heart of the Valley YMCA extended more than $80,644 in fee assistance to more than 3,100 military members and their families.

During Veterans Week at the YMCA, Nov. 5-11, all veterans and those with valid Military I.D. (including their families) will receive complimentary admission at all Y branches: Downtown Express and Southeast Family YMCAs in Huntsville and Hogan Family YMCA in Madison.

For more information, call 256-428-9622, ext. 3008, email events@ymcahuntsville.org or visit ymcahuntsville.org/VETERANS.

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