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RESIDENTS CAN HELP TO HONOR FALLEN SOLDIER

An event at Stewy's Skate Park will celebrate the man killed in Iraq.

Organizers have firmed up details for the special celebration of the life of fallen Hernando soldier Pfc. Cody Grater.

Hernando residents are invited to gather on Aug. 12 at Stewy's Skate Park at Pioneer Park in Spring Hill from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. to honor the 20-year-old, who was killed in Iraq on Sunday.

A short program honoring Grater is planned at 11 a.m., and the rest of the day will be for family fun and sharing memories.

On Friday, the family will hold a visitation at the Merritt Funeral Home Spring Hill chapel from 4-8 p.m. And on Sunday, Aug. 11, services will be held at the Spring Hill Baptist Church at 10 a.m. Burial will follow at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

The event on Sunday is for the community to honor Cody Grater's fun-loving spirit.

"This is a celebration of his life,'' said County Commissioner Diane Rowden. "Cody would have wanted everyone to have a party. He would not have wanted people to cry for him.''

"We want to celebrate Cody's life here in Hernando,'' said Fred Glass, another of the event organizers. "He was so active in getting the skate park set up.''

Hamburgers, hot dogs and other refreshments will be served.

Grater's family has requested donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hernando County in lieu of flowers. Representatives of that organization will be on hand to talk about their program and accept donations.

Visitors to the event are also asked to bring personal hygiene products and other items that can be sent to members of Grater's Army unit in Iraq.

Glass said the group is also hoping for help from other area businesses. Those interested in helping can reach him at 442-0238.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

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