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Larry Blustein

Giving Back In A Major Way

• Riemer Insurance Group sponsors trip to Disney for 90 Hallandale Beach PAL children

By Larry Blustein

  As the two brand new state-of-the-art buses pulled out of the parking lot of the Riemer Insurance Group Corporate Offices (217 E Hallandale Beach Blvd, Hallandale Beach) at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9 in Hallandale Beach, lives would indeed be changed forever.
   As one of the key business leaders in the community, Stephen Riemer, President of Riemer Insurance Group, and owner of landmark Nick's Restaurant among other businesses, has always found it important to give back to the local Hallandale Beach grassroots community, and there was no better choice than supporting the youth of the Hallandale Beach Police Athletic Program, for this once in a lifetime trip to Walt Disney.
   With 90 of the some 1,100 children in Hallandale Beach's PAL program chosen for this day-long event that started early on Saturday morning - and ending close to 3 a.m. on Sunday, it was much more than a vacation for the day. It was a lesson - an experience that indeed made an impact on many of the children who had never been to iconic attraction - just four, short hours away.
   With Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy sending the buses off early in the morning with Mayor Joy Cooper, Fire Chief Daniel Sullivan, two Hallandale Beach Police escorts and several members of the Riemer Insurance Group and dozens of volunteers aboard, this was indeed a day to remember.
   Dedicated to the Hallandale Beach PAL, founded by the late Police Chief Thomas Magil, the first of what appears to many of these give back to the community ideas that Riemer and the city will certainly be giving back to.
   "I look at what a great program the PAL has become, and with many of these kids, ages 8-14, having no summer camp or really nothing to do, this was the perfect event to come up with," said Riemer, who has been a huge promoter of Hallandale Beach. "This is indeed something that we will make annually and continue to build on."
   While Riemer started the ball rolling, looking to people such as PAL Coordinator Jonathan Carrillo for assistance was essential. Carrillo, another product of Hallandale Beach, chose the 90 youngsters from the program for a day that many will look back on for years to come.
   Space Mountain, TorrowLand and many of the elite attractions became a destination that lasted all day - until the fireworks began at night. It was to be a total experience -  with delicious meals and snacks and a first class time.
   While the trip to Disney was indeed the highlight of the day, the experiences that each and every person had was something that was the prefect way to usher in the new school year. Each child received an event t-shirt and cap with the PAL logo and the Riemer Insurance Group name and logo. They got to take them home as a reminder of special day.
   "The kids were the real story," Riemer pointed out. "To see their faces when they received those new shirts and hat was priceless. To watch them throughout the day, enjoy snacks, eating two full meals and getting that park admission ticket was something that all of us who went took a great deal of pride in."
   In addition to the shirts and hats, each of the 90-plus who came along for this experience had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and water, courtesy of Cheney Brothers - and the Kiwanis Club of Hallandale Beach, which donated $300.00, to spend towards the refreshments for the children at Disney.
   "This was such a special thing that Mr. Riemer did for this organization," said Carrillo. "This is someone who truly thinks out of the box when it comes to this community, and we all appreciate and respect that."
   PAL staff and volunteers that attended included Carrillo, Judith Mentor, PAL Staff, Officer Gerry Novoa, Officer Megan Jones, Parks Staff Rashad Harris, Parks Staff Tranese Harris, Melanie Reneau, Jackie Cespedes, Marcela Santiago, Cruz Marquez, Tannahill Rich and Milagros Suarez.
   Even Mayor Cooper was up for the 21-hour day that really showcased her community in such a positive way. Posing for photos, going on rides and being part of this landmark event was extra special. In her time as the mayor, these are the things that have made her popular. These are true events that she understands will keep her community in such a positive spotlight.
   "This is what community is all about," she said. "When you have great people in this city, this is what happens, and what Stephen and his staff did to make this a reality was indeed what gives any community a special feel."
   As anything, the first time is where you learn and garner new ideas for the next time you do it. As Riemer took mental notes throughout the long day, always looking for ways to enhance, he noticed that many of the children who attended didn't have the proper shoes. He also realized that with the help of other community businesses, who could sponsor buses and donate money and other services, this event could jump to 500 children and 10 buses for the 2015 trip.
   The fact that some of the youngsters enjoyed the Disney trip, which was the first for at least 65% of them, maybe Epcot and Universal could be a destination for some as well. There are so many options.
   "What sneaker company wouldn't want to donate pairs of shoes for these kids and get all that positive publicity of a life-changing moment," Riemer challenged. "With a few more local businesses for next year, this is a ball that should never stop rolling. This is about community and building a better future for these youngsters - and we all have a chance to make that happen."
   While the financial price is high to accomplish all of these great things, Riemer knows that the investment is huge. He found that out for over 21 hours - as children, professionals and all those who came along expressed their gratitude and thanks for an idea that was a long time in coming.

    Want to get involved for the 2015 trip?  Contact: Dorene Alberts at 754.244.7567 or for more information on
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