By TROY McCLELLAN
Last week Floridians anxiously awaited the arrival of Hurricane Dorian. As with most hurricanes, the exact path and speed are difficult to accurately forecast. Dorian was no exception. Dorian gained strength as it approached the Bahamas, and while growing into a massive category 5 storm, it slowed to a crawl and became nearly stationary over the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island for two days. The destruction is catastrophic and the people of the Bahamas are in desperate need of the basic essentials.
Sun ’N Fun, along with the Aerospace Center for Excellence, is organizing much-needed aid for the Bahamas. A receiving station has been established at the Sun ’N Fun Expo Campus to collect and distribute donated items. According to John Leenhouts, president and CEO of Sun ’N Fun/ACE, they are using the experience gained from staging relief efforts during and after Hurricane Irma to quickly distribute these essential supplies to the people of the Bahamas. For full details including directions and a needs list, visit www.flysnf.org, call 863-644-2431 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is important to note that Sun ’N Fun has direct contact with the Bahamian authorities and has been partnering with the island nation to promote aviation and aerospace. Sun ’N Fun’s director of marketing, Carol Cali, referred to the people of the Bahamas as friends and said the relief efforts are personal to the Sun ’N Fun family.
In addition to the hurricane relief efforts, Sun ’N Fun is also in partnership with the Flight Safety Academy in Vero Beach. Sun ’N Fun provides hangar space for the academy’s airplanes when needed, and, in return, Flight Safety provides airplane flights for summer camp programs and students. As Dorian threatened the east coast of Florida, the academy moved 60 planes to Lakeland for shelter from the storm.
When many people hear “Sun ’N Fun,” they think of the annual air show, but that is only one part of the greater organization and campus based in Lakeland. Sun ’N Fun, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is a huge asset to central Florida and is key to inspiring the next generation of aviation and aerospace pioneers. Over $2 Million Dollars a year is raised, and it funds aerospace and STEM-related educational programs that touch the lives of over 50,000 youth every year.