Friendship at the Y Leads to Honor Flight for Veteran
When Ricky Garcia, a member of Platte County Community Center South for more than a decade, met fitness instructor Amy Larsen two years ago at the Y, they hit it off quickly.
When Amy’s not at the Y, she’s dedicated to honoring veterans by performing USO shows like those of the 1940s, across the metro with a group called the Kansas City Bettys. Ricky, 86, is a veteran of the Korean War, and worked in personnel for the Strategic Air Command with the United States Air Force.
As their friendship grew at the Y, Amy encouraged him to apply to go on an Honor Flight. Amy had become involved in the Honor Flight through the Kansas City Bettys. The Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit that arranges trips for veterans to visit Washington, D.C. and reflect at the memorials for the wars in which they served.
When Ricky was selected for the Honor Flight, Amy went on the trip as his guardian.
“It was one of the best days of my life, thanks to her,” Ricky said.
They visited Arlington National Cemetery, the Korean War Memorial and other sites at the Capitol with other veterans.
Ricky even climbed to the top of the Lincoln Memorial.
“At 86 years old, he climbed to the top of the Lincoln Memorial. Now we can thank the Y for that, right?” Amy said, of how the Y has helped Ricky stay active and strong. Ricky visits the Y five days a week to exercise.
Ricky said the Y is more than just a gym.
“It’s about the friendships you create with people,” he said. “It’s like a big family.”