DECATUR - Ayn Owens, who has been promoting events in and around Decatur for decades, is hoping an all-day lakefront event scheduled for Friday will establish a new tradition.

With the help of a couple of friends, Owens, a member of Operation Enduring Support, is presenting Cruise 11, a car and motorcycle show, followed by a memorial service and concert.

The idea is to honor military service members, veterans and first responders.

"I'm doing this in memory of Jonny," Owens said.

Marine Pvt. Jonathan Gifford, 30, of Decatur was killed in Iraq on March 23, 2003, shortly after the war began. His mother, Vicky Langley, and grandmother, Reva Godfrey, are members of Operation Enduring Support, a military family support group.

All proceeds from the event will go to Decatur's World War II Memorial, Operation Enduring Support and Operation Santa, a program that sends stuffed stockings to service members overseas.

Dan O'Laughlin and Lucy Brownlee, co-owners of Lucy's Airbrush, a custom auto/motorcycle painting studio, are hosting the motorcycle show.

"They've done wonderful things for charitable organizations," Owens said.

In the past seven years, O'Laughlin's and Brownlee's motorcycle shows have raised a lot of money for Make-a-Wish Foundation and Children's Cancer Charity.

Brownlee is making custom trophies, to be awarded to owners of vehicles selected by members of the Decatur police and fire departments, Macon County Sheriff's Office, Illinois National Guard, American Red Cross and representatives of each military branch.

An area will be established for people to meet veterans and service members.

School, church and youth groups or individuals are invited to write thank-you cards to service members, veterans and first responders. Cards that are brought to Grace United Methodist Church, 901 N. Main St., will be handed out during the event.

"This is an opportunity to thank them for their service," Owens said.


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