‘Black Hawk Down’ Fundraiser Generates $10K For St. Baldricks Pediatric Cancer Research
By Space Coast Daily // May 4, 2016
organized by steve wilson and Lisa Nicholas
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – More than 300 people attended a special viewing of the movie “Black Hawk Down” to benefit St. Baldricks Pediatric Cancer Research.
The fundraising event was held last Saturday evening at the Bernard Simpkins Fine Arts Center on the Cocoa Campus of Eastern Florida State College. The location was made possible by EFSC’s Jack Parker.
All proceeds benefitted the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private (non-government) funder of pediatric cancer research grants, whose mission is to find cures for childhood cancers and to give survivors long and healthy lives.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of the event,” said event organizer Steve Wilson.
“We are very grateful for the strong support from our community. This is another terrific example of how Brevard is such a wonderful place to live and how caring our community is.”
Wilson thanked Lisa Nicholas, Space Coast Daily and retired Col. Danny McKnight and his wife Linda for their support of the fundraiser. He also introduced Julie Spurlock of Merritt Island, who has recovered from cancer.
“I am having my monthly checkups and everything looks good,” said Spurlock, who was speaking in support of the St. Baldricks Foundation pediatric cancer research.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey made some opening remarks.
“We are grateful for our superb armed forces and we are blessed that our local citizens support our troops and law enforcement personnel so well,” said Sheriff Ivey.
Col. McKnight then spoke about the movie “Black Hawk Down” and introduced soldiers who participated in the actual mission in Somalia in October 1993.
“Black Hawk Down” is based on the best-selling book which recounts what was an almost disastrous mission when 100 U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force members were inserted deep into the capital city of Mogadishu in an effort to capture two high-ranking lieutenants of Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid.
In attendance were CWS Karl Maier who flew one of the helicopters in the mission, CSM Sean Watson who was one of the members of Task Force Ranger, Col. Dave Moran and Ranger Todd Blackburn.
U.S. Congressman Bill Posey was also in attendance and conveyed his pride and gratitude for the armed forces.
“The men and women who protect our country are the finest in the world and we are eternally grateful for those who serve.”
An emotional and impassioned Col. McKnight spoke of the bravery of the members of the mission.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am to be on this stage with these heroes,” said Col. McKnight.”These men and the other members of our mission are truly heroes and have given so much for our country.”
The movie was shown to the half-way point and then members of the audience had an opportunity to ask questions to the soldiers in attendance who were portrayed in the film.
“Would it have made a big difference to the mission if you would have had the AC-10 in support form the sky” was a question from the audience, referring to the close air support aircraft nicknamed the “Warthog” due to its firepower.
“Absolutely, it would have been a huge help as it would have helped to keep the people back,” said Watson.
“The AC-10 would have generated a lot more respect from the indigenous population.”
Col. McKnight is from Rockledge and graduated from Cocoa High School in 1969 and Brevard Community College in 1971. He was a Distinguished Military Graduate from Florida State University in 1973, where he earned a BS Degree in Management.
In 1985, Col. McKnight earned his Masters Degree in Higher Education from the University of Florida while assigned as an Assistant Professor of Military Science in the ROTC Department.
“The politicians would not allow us to use that asset,” said McKnight in regard to the AC-10.
“They did not want this to look like another Vietnam. I hate political correctness and if we are going to put our troops in harms way, we need to give them the support they need and understand that there might be collateral damage.That is what happens in war.”
The audience then watched in awe at the second half of the movie, and after the conclusion, Col. McKnight thanked the audience for their support and thanked Steve Wilson and his team for making the event possible.
Proceeds from the event raised over $10,000 for the St.Baldricks Foundation.
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