Saturday, April 20, marked the first annual Kentucky State Night hosted at Arnold Hall at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs. Sponsored by the Falcon Families of Kentucky (FFK) the state night was a time for Kentucky cadets to relax among their home state comrades and enjoy good food and music while having the opportunity to win some exciting prizes. Falcon Families of Kentucky is made up of parents and families of Kentucky cadets attending the Air Force Academy.

There are currently 45 cadets from the Bluegrass State that attend USAFA. Close to home we have Jarod Hodges of Waynesburg a 2017 graduate of Somerset Christian School and C4C Reed Campbell of Stanford who graduated in 2018 from Lincoln County High School. Both were offered appointments to the elite military Academy.

Eight dedicated parents flew into Colorado Springs and spent Friday night and Saturday working to pack up goodie bags and make all the last minute preparations. Each cadet was allowed to invite one guest and approximately sixty cadets began arriving at 5:30 p.m. for the catered barbeque dinner. Upon arrival, every attendee received a Falcon Family t-shirt and each Kentucky cadet was presented with a full, quite heavy Inter-County Energy string bag filled with items all made, grown or manufactured in Kentucky. Most were very surprised at all of the 100% Kentucky items that filled their bags--everything from duct tape to Kentucky beef sticks, Ale 8 to lip balm made from soybeans, and soap made from goat's milk.

The daily routine at the academy is extremely rigorous. While most colleges consider full-time to be 12 credit hours, Academy students are required to take no less than 18 credit hours while many are taking up to 23, all being extremely advanced classes. In addition to their studies, the cadets have military duties and are also required to participate in either a sport or an extracurricular club. There is obviously no luxury time to just sit back and relax. The day starts early at approximately 5:30 a.m. and most cadets do not finish their day until after 8:00 p.m. and then they still have homework!

The FFK state night provided a few hours of escape from their packed routine. It was a time of fellowship, fun, food and relaxation. It was a nice break for our Kentucky sons and daughters right before they get ready to enter into their spring finals--an incredibly stressful time. Local FFK parents are so encouraged by the enthusiastic support of local businesses stating, "We are so very grateful to all of the local businesses and organizations that generously donated in order to help us sponsor this fantastic evening." Locally, in Pulaski County, we would like to thank First Southern Bank and Toyota of Somerset for their donations. Because of you and other donors, FFK was able to give our Kentucky cadets some really wonderful and meaningful gifts.

USAFA is one of five military service academies located in the United States. The other four are the US Naval Academy, the Military Academy at West Point, the US Merchant Marines, and the US Coast Guard Academy. These five service academies offer a free, top-notch college education and at the end of four years each cadet will graduate as a second lieutenant in the United States Military. In return for the four year education each graduate will dedicate a minimum of five years to military service.