Fifty of our nation’s wounded warriors will finally receive a much-deserved and, in many cases, long-overdue hero’s welcome as part of the Warrior Beach Retreat held April 22–29, 2014, at Laketown Wharf in Panama City Beach, Florida. Warrior Beach Retreat, Inc., a nonprofit corporation started in September of 2009 that provides a forum for combat-wounded soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, was created to pay homage to those injured heroes and their spouses or caregivers who have made great sacrifices for our country.
The Warrior Beach Retreat was founded locally by Linda Cope, whose son, retired Sgt. Joshua Cope, lost his legs above the knees and severely injured his hands during an IED blast in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2006. “My son is my hero, as is his wife, Erica. It has not been an easy journey. They have turned tragedy into triumph by choosing to persevere amidst unimaginable hardships. Their lives are an inspiration to all,” said Cope, who knows firsthand how difficult and often discouraging the road ahead can be for these soldiers and their families.
“There are so many heroes in this great nation, so many spouses and caregivers we can encourage. My vision as a mom is to bring wounded warriors and their spouses and caregivers to Panama City Beach for a week of rest and relaxation. This retreat will be a time when we can give them hope to carry on, a feeling that their sacrifice was not in vain, and the knowledge that we as a nation are truly grateful for their service and sacrifices,” explains Cope.
While Laketown Wharf is known for supporting patriotic causes such as the Panama City Beach Fire Department’s annual Memorial Stair Climb fund-raiser that honors the heroic first responders and victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, this will be Laketown Wharf’s first time as the host site for the Warrior Beach Retreat. “We are honored to be part of the 2014 spring retreat and look forward to meeting all of the honorable warriors and their loved ones when they arrive at Laketown Wharf. Our goal is to pamper them at our beautiful resort so that they can experience the ultimate beach vacation and to show them how much we greatly appreciate all of their sacrifices for our great nation,” expressed Laketown Wharf’s general manager, Gene Murphy.
Cope praised the local community and businesses for their encouragement and generous donations of lodging, restaurant meals, gift baskets, fishing trips, movie passes, tours, attraction tickets, car rentals, money and more for the biannual retreats. Cope added, “It means so much to me that Laketown Wharf is hosting our warriors for the upcoming April beach retreat. This is a very special treat for our unsung heroes and a time of hope and healing. We extend a heartfelt thanks to Laketown Wharf and Sterling Resorts for embracing these brave soldiers and supporting this worthwhile cause.”
Tara Plybon, who attended a prior last fall’s retreat in Panama City Beach with her husband, retired Sgt. Todd Plybon, had this to say about their experience: “We cannot thank the Panama City Beach community enough for their generosity and kindness. My husband never had a welcome home parade or anything for the two tours he did. It (Warrior Beach Retreat) was an event that we will never forget, and I wish that every soldier and caregiver could experience the loving welcome and kindness that came from all of you.”
The Warrior Beach Retreat officially kicks off Thursday, April 24 at 4:15 p.m. with a parade starting at Laketown Wharf and continuing over the Hathaway Bridge to the First Baptist Church in downtown Panama City, where the opening ceremony will take place at 5:45pm. The public is invited to attend the free ceremony, which features distinguished guest speaker retired First Lt. Patrick Cleburne “Clebe” McClary. Despite being critically wounded in 1968 during an enemy assault in Vietnam, McClary demonstrated great bravery while under fire and was presented with both a Silver and a Bronze Star by the president. The local community is urged to show their support and respect by lining the parade route and waving signs and flags. For more information regarding the spring Warrior Beach Retreat or the parade route and opening ceremony, visit www.warriorsbeachretreat.org or www.facebook.com/pages/Warrior-Beach-Inc.
Laketown Wharf is not only rolling out the red carpet for the attendees of this spring’s Warrior Beach Retreat, but they are also offering a special spring discount on accommodations for all active duty military and retired veterans.
Rolling Out the Red Carpet Military Promotion
20% off, now through May 31, 2014
Call 855-238-6946 for full details
Thursday, April 17, 2014