Animal House: Guests of all ages interacted with furry and scaly friends at Miami's Safari Edventure.
MIAMI (Apr. 4, 2017) -- The entire Noah’s Ark roster was there: alligators, parrots, wolves, lemurs, hedgehogs, kangaroos, and more joined a group of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans and their guests at Miami’s Safari Edventure, a hands-on nature preserve.
“The event was fantastic,” said National Guard veteran Barry Offenburger. “It was very laid back and family-oriented. Wounded Warrior Project staff had it all under control and allowed everyone to explore at their own pace and comfort level.”
These WWP connection events give wounded warriors an opportunity to experience firsthand what is possible at social gatherings that get them connected with fellow service members.
Emma Holguin, whose husband Abraham is a Navy veteran, said, “I was more than happy watching my children have fun petting the animals and learning new things, but to top it off, my husband had a smile on his face for most of the day.”
An hour-long presentation allowed guests to learn fun facts about the animal friends they interacted with. Lemurs, for example, have scent glands in their wrists. Parrots, of which there are 372 different species, were a highlight for Barry. “I truly enjoyed them,” said Barry, who is a bird lover himself. “I am a big fan as I used to have a blue and gold macaw. I am also a big outdoors guy, so I was definitely in my ‘zone.’”
“We learned about some new animals, their habitats, and what they like to eat,” Emma said. “For us, feeding piglets and holding some of the animals was exciting. I loved holding a baby alligator.”
Making new friends is an important part of connection events for warriors and families. Emma made a new connection that delighted her: “The new friend I met on this trip and I have something great in common: we both provide support for our warriors,” she said.
“My family and I always meet new warriors and families at these events,” Barry said. “For me, it’s always good seeing some of the veterans I’ve met again.”
Warriors and families find out about how WWP connects, serves, and empowers in numerous ways: battle buddies and commercials are only two. Another way? Friendly, helpful WWP staff.
“I can’t wait to connect with my event coordinator again. I found out about a few programs that I’m interested in learning more about,” said Emma, who discovered WWP through a caregiver friend.
Barry, who learned about WWP at Walter Reed in 2005, said, “My wife and I have been to a couples mental health workshop, and I went to one on my own a few years ago as well. Wounded Warrior Project also provided me a used laptop when I went back to school. The organization has been wonderful with my family and me.”
No matter how warriors and families find out about WWP, many share Barry’s sentiment: “Wounded Warrior Project is not only a resource but a community. It is somewhere I can always turn for help, guidance, and support.”
The 2016 WWP Annual Warrior Survey highlights the importance of connection at WWP veteran outreach events. These settings support the long-term recovery of warriors with physical injuries and social anxieties.
To learn and see more about how WWP’s programs connect, serve, and empower wounded warriors, visit https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/, and click on multimedia.
Contact: Lazjee’ C. Lyles – Public Relations Coordinator
About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects, serves, and empowers wounded warriors. Read more at http://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/about-us.