FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Wednesday is a day to remember our veterans, and at Fresno’s Break the Barriers it was a day full of surprises.
“Well for us at Break the Barriers, every day is Veterans Day for us and we are so grateful for all of our military,” said Deby Hergenrader, the Chief of Operations & Co-Founder of Break the Barriers.
The veterans’ program at Break the Barriers provides veterans activities to improve their physical and mental abilities and also a place to socialize.
“I choose to be at Break the Barriers mainly because of the comradery and my ability to spend time with other veterans,” said U.S. Navy Veteran Michael Lawrence.
Before the pandemic, more than 1,500 veterans were participating in the veterans’ program. Now there’s an estimated 500.
“It was very rough, you know this is our outlet here for many veterans,” said Jackie Lovato, a retired Master Sergeant of the U.S. Army.
COVID-19 took a toll on the non-profit, but for Veterans Day the Fig Garden Rotary decided to make a donation of $10,000 to the program.
“We’ve been long time supporters through participating in the Veterans Day parade every year, unfortunately, that was canceled this year,” said Jeff Garza, the Club President of Fig Garden Rotary.
Although Fresno’s infamous Veterans Day parade was canceled, a Break the Barriers veteran who marched in the parade for years said he kept the tradition alive by marching solo in Downtown Fresno in his uniform.
“I went down to City Hall and I sang a song for all the veterans, saluted them, and then I started marching at 11:11 and I marched the complete parade route that they have all the way to Chukchansi park,” said Sgt. Frank Renteria.
Local vets say the day is all about healing.
“You know the families that are hurting, the families that miss their fathers and mothers, all the good men and women that didn’t get to come home, that’s what Veterans Day is all about,” said Larry Rowe a U.S. Navy Veteran.