Businesses band together for vets, first responders

The winners of free air-conditioning systems at the First Responders & Vets Appreciation Luncheon were Tracie Robinson and Julie Vrooman.

PANAMA CITY BEACH — It’s hot out there, but thanks to some local businesses, one veteran and one first responder now are cooling off with new air-conditioning systems. 

“Hallelujah,” said Tracie Robinson, a Navy veteran with five children who was chosen as one of the recipients of a free A/C system, installed July 6 by A Superior Air Conditioning. The second winner was Julie Vrooman.

A Superior was among the local businesses that held a First Responders & Vets Appreciation Luncheon at Harley-Davidson of Panama City Beach on Tuesday. Veterans and members of local police departments, sheriff’s offices, fire departments and emergency medical services in Bay, Walton, Okaloosa, Washington and Holmes counties were invited to the buffet-style event catered by Texas Roadhouse.

“The event started two years ago. Word gets out and the event keeps growing,” said event coordinator Marta Rose-Thorpe of PCB Harley-Davidson. “Our next event will be Oct. 3, and we plan to have more for the vets and first responders.”

Robinson works 36 hours a week at the Tyndall Air Force Base bowling alley and marina to support her family after her husband was diagnosed with a disabling disease in 2016. The family was without air conditioning since March, and four of her five boys still at home had to sleep in one room with a portable window unit, she said. Her oldest son attends college in the West Palm Beach area.

“The boys were all excited. They could go back to sleeping in their own rooms,” Robinson said. Her children range in age from 2 to 17. Two of her boys have Asperger’s syndrome, and one boy has epilepsy.

Vrooman said she has been living without A/C since May 2010.

“Julie’s system is to be scheduled for installation,” said Brian Ross of A Superior.

Businesses that banded together for the event included Beachy Beach Real Estate, Panama City Toyota, Sam’s Club, Booyah Mortgage, attorney Robert McNally, Holiday Golf Club, Coca Cola, Joe Brown Allstate Insurance, Culver’s, Diamond Title, Dippin’ Dots, The H.O.P.E. Project, the Vet Center, A Superior Air Conditioning, Harley-Davidson of PCB and Texas Roadhouse. Additional goodies were provided by the individual businesses.

An average home air conditioning system costs between $ 2,500 and $ 3,000, with labor included. Ross said A Superior has donated about $ 30,000 in the first six months of this year to area charities.

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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