KEY BISCAYNE (CBS4) – It was supposed to be, at best, a few dozen people welcoming back Captain Wesley Pritchett from Afghanistan Thursday night. When he arrived though hundreds of people stopped what they were doing, even getting out of their cars to line the street all the way to his home.
Pritchett gave high fives out the window of a car to what seemed a like an endless line of children and neighbors.
There were shouts of ‘thank you!” and “USA! USA! USA!” chants along the way.
“I got really chocked up coming down the block. This is the highlight of my life right here.” Pritchett told the crowd.
The outpouring overwhelmed not just Pritchett, but his neighbor Amy Zambrano who coordinated the homecoming.
“I wanted to get the community together so we could express not only our appreciation for Wes and what he did specifically but I think this is representative of how the entire country feels about the soldiers.” Zambrano told CBS4’s David Sutta.
Perhaps the homecoming was about what the Pritchett family has done over the last year. Between her son and a network of volunteers, Winnie Pritchett has raised $200,000 to buy and ship more than 400 iPads to soldiers in Afghanistan and Walter Reed Hospital.
“They deserve something great and we thought what could be useful to the guys in the field that carry these big packs on their back and don’t have room for a new book or photos of their family. so everything is condensed,” Winnie explained.
The idea has taken off and Wes seeing it’s effect on our soldiers on the front lines.
“It’s not them getting an iPad that really matters. It’s them knowing that people care about them enough to give them such a gift,” he said
So Thursday night the love was sent back to the Pritchett family, the old fashioned way, through human contact that stretched for blocks.
It is possible Wesley could be sent back overseas, but that doesn’t mean the iPads for Soldiers program is slowing down.
Apple makes them pay full price for the iPads, so they are ramping up fundraising for a huge holiday delivery to soldiers.
If you are interested in helping go to www.ipadsforsoldiers.org