A patriotic theme will be prevalent in downtown Railroad Park Aug. 24.

Special Teams Charities founder Jeff Loeks is cooking up a celebration he's calling “America Is Beautiful.”

Loek's name should be familiar. The former Army Ranger and White Bear firefighter usually has at least one event planned each summer to fundraise or raise awareness about a pet cause. He's the guy who walked from Duluth to White Bear Lake in 2013 to raise money for a special ATV for the fire department. Last year he led a group of firefighters, police officers and nurses on a 100-mile trek along the Superior Hiking Trail to bring attention to violence against health care workers.

In 2017, Loeks and his fiancée Racheal Haasken filled a panel truck full of food for the White Bear food shelf. At its conclusion, the two then said their vows at the “Fed & Wed” benefit. That happy event also took place at Railroad Park.

The goal of “America Is Beautiful,” Loeks said, is “to unite people.”

“It is going to be an all-inclusive, full day of celebrating what is great about America,” explained the charity-minded White Bear resident, who works as an emergency room technician. “We will be collecting items to ship to deployed soldiers for Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Network. Our biggest hope is that veterans stop by so we can recognize them. We'd like family members to bring elderly veterans. We will be taking pictures with them using our American flag backdrop, and a board to display their names and what unit they were in. Grandma's Bakery will be doing something special for the event to assist with this recognition.”

There will also be bagpipes, patriotic music, a lemonade stand, barbecue and muscle cars, Loeks added.

The Army veteran has been interviewing people this past year as to why they love America and will continue those interviews at the event.

“I hope to show that it is possible for us all to get along and not have the division that the news would have you believe is so strong,” he said. “I've learned that we all ultimately have the same goals of success, and love of America.”


Debra Neutkens

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