Every month our Rotary Clubs of Austin and Killeen partner with the Austin Hotel and Lodging Association to host a military family for the weekend so they can spend quality time with their families. It is always a grand event because we get to thank that soldier for his service and we get to entertain his family and thank them for carrying on when their dad or mom is serving our country. But it is a rare occasion when that simple weekend turns into so much more.
SSG John Robertson’s family was quite a surprise for us because not only did he have a finance but a blended family of eight-yes eight ranging from age 3 years to 20 years (although the 20 year old did not get to come due to work). The spent their weekend under the special care of the Renaissance Austin and were given all the attention they deserved. As the soldier commented that It is rare that they got to go places for a vacation because there were so many  so they were thrilled to be selected as our family of the month.  But what we didn’t know til I visited with John  was that it was the soldier’s birthday on the day of his arrival so I had a birthday cake waiting for him. The weather was great and the family had a wonderful time enjoying Austin and the fabulous dinner that they were given by the County Line on the Lake. They even had special friends that happen to be in Austin for the weekend so they joined them for a big celebration at dinner. But the surprise was still to come. During their time at the County Line while they were out feeding the fish and turtles, John proposed to his finance, Ryan and she accepted-thank heavens! What a great moment to share with this very special blended family! On Sunday morning John left his family at the hotel and headed with his crew to the Austin airport to head out to a deployment and his family headed back to Killeen stopping to cap off an incredible weekend with a day of fun at Austin Parks & Pizza. Something we forget that these soldiers who are defending us everyday are people with families jut like us and this is such a great way to give the soldier time with his family and let him know we appreciate his service. Here is what he said to me before he left “Mary, we can’t tell you how much we appreciate this gift…we were humbled just thinking of a weekend getaway with the hotel and dinner but you’ve made it so much more! I can’t thank you enough-the hospitality was overwhelming. We just kept saying thank you all weekend but that just wasn’t enough to express how we all really feel about this weekend. And by the way, she did say yes.” Thank a soldier today! They deserve to know we care.