Martin Luther King Day 2010

On Monday, January 18, 2010, a tour bus full of students and faculty from Saint Leo University had the honor of visiting with Veterans at the James Haley Community Veterans Center in Tampa, FL for Martin Luther King Day. Antonette Lyken, a senior honors student, coordinated the event with many students, faculty, and staff from the Honors Program, Business and Tourism, Religion and others. The afternoon began with sharing of ice cream treats and stories. Many students and faculty found they shared common bonds with the veterans such as hometowns and relatives who have attended the University in past years. While a charming veteran who goes by “Moses” and Jacci White, Professor of Mathematics and Assistant Director of Honors, joined several others on the outdoor porch to enjoy the weather, Grant Posner , Jonathan Posner, and Brittany Rathbone, Saint Leo University honors students, were losing at poker to a Veteran who is also a retired Georgia State Trooper. Checkers and connect 4 were popular game choices shared by the groups through the day.

A small group of faculty, staff, and students were able to visit veterans in their rooms through the afternoon. Memories were made and plans to return were set up. One of the ladies from Saint Leo looked forward to her visit the following weekend when she returned with hotdogs at the request of a veteran she had met. Father Stephan Brown, Assistant to the President for University Ministry, had the opportunity to converse with many of the residents throughout the facility.

A highlight of the afternoon was a game of bingo. The room was overflowing as students and veterans shared their Bingo cards in an attempt to win one of the many prizes. Mike Gincel kept everyone entertained with his lively antics as he ran the game. Stan McGahey, a professor of Sport Business and Tourism, reminisced with veterans entering the meeting room while the game was in progress. Space was hard to come by as everyone poured in for their chance to join the game.

The hospitality and welcome shared by the veterans was greatly appreciated. Fun was had by all and Saint Leo University students plan to visit again soon. It is hoped that a visit might be set up much earlier in the school year next time, maybe even before classes begin in the fall.