Thunderbirds a blast for Westside Boys & Girls Club

       Representatives of the Air Force Thunderbirds flying team visited the Boys & Girls Club's El Pomar Unit on the Westside June 3.
       Capt. Todd Randolph, the team's executive officer; and Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagred, an enlisted team member, gave a roughly 45-minute presentation about the Thunderbirds and answered numerous questions from more than 100 youngsters seated on chairs in the club's gym.
       The visit was an offshoot of Air Force Academy efforts to get closer to community leaders, according to James Sullivan, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region. He said he was pleased at the opportunity because the Thunderbirds provide “strong, positive role models.”
       Later in the day, the kids went to Peterson Field in hopes of catching the scheduled Thunderbirds air show, but bad weather kept the jets on the ground. The result wasn't all bad: The team's pilots came out and signed autographs.
       “They were so good with them,” said Kiersten Shoup, director of finance and administration for the club. “So it worked out. It was exciting for the kids.”
       In his talk at the club that morning, Randolph strongly encouraged the youngsters to stay in school. “It's all about choices,” he said. “It's your choice to if you study hard or you don't, or if you listen to your mom and dad instead of some guy on the street corner. Making good choices leads to great opportunities and a good life.”
       His audience included boys and girls from the two Colorado Springs clubs, as well as a club at Fort Carson.
       Asked by one child how the Thunder-bird activities support the war effort, Ran-dolph drew applause when he said that the actions of everyone serving in the military supports that effort.
       Known as the local club's “El Pomar Unit,” the Westside Boys & Girls Club is located off Manitou Boulevard at 805 Pradeira Ave. During the school year, the club provides activities for kids after school, and during the summer it is open all day.
       The Thunderbirds squadron is an Air Combat Command unit comprised of eight pilots, four support officers, approximately 120 Active-duty, Air National Guard and Reserve enlisted people, and four civilians.
       Featuring the F-16 jet, a Thunderbirds air demonstration lasts about an hour and involves six aircraft, performing about 40 maneuvers while flying in formation or solo.

Westside Pioneer article