LAWTON, OK- Fish, chicken and giving back was on the menu at The Great Plains Coliseum tonight. It's the 5th annual Armed Services YMCA Y-Fry, and people turned out in droves to help raise money for the organization that does so much for the military community.
Five years ago, our community was being hit hard with large numbers of deployments, and the Armed Services Y was in demand, but they were having trouble keeping up. They weren't sure where to turn until...
"Out of the blue here comes this man with a passion for those soldiers and their families, David Pope. And he came up with this idea that said how about a chicken and fish fry as a way to reach the community and make them aware of the needs of the soldiers and their families as well as give them a good meal, " said Retired Colonel and President of the Armed Services YMCA Board, Robert Cline.
And five years later the dream lives on. Unfortunately David passed away last year, so in the true Armed Services Y way, they chose to rename the event the "David Pope Memorial Y-Fry" in his honor.
Cline said, "I know he's looking down on us now, and he's really happy. I think the biggest thing is David just had this passion for soldiers and their families."
And in the tradition of Pope's vision, tonight a special military family was put in the spotlight. The McClain family. A family board members say was chosen because they are a true representation of the types of families they aim to help.
"Just one day we were looking for a day care and my wife was like, hey, let's check out the Armed Services Y," said Staff Sergeant Jason McClain.
Their son Ryan is part of the child care program, where they say he receives better care than they could have hoped for.
And because of this small gesture, Pope would be proud to see that once again his passion for helping soldiers will live on for years to come.
Specialist Caitlin McClain said, "They say it takes a village to raise children, and it's so nice to have extra people who love and play with him, and I feel like everyone should have an opportunity to have that. We'll definitely be helping with this event next year."
Board members tell us they served over 700 people the first night alone, and expect an even bigger crowd the second night.
If you weren't able to make it this evening, the event continues tomorrow, Thursday, from 5 to 8PM at the Great Plains Coliseum. Tickets are $10 at the door, and children under the age of 5 eat free.