Before arriving to her West Palm Beach home Wednesday, U.S. Army Veteran June Halstead-Cox said she could see a glow emanating from down the street.
“I was screaming in the car,” said Halstead-Cox as she pulled into her driveway lined with solar-powered candy canes. “Then, seeing all of you was just surreal.”
After spending the day wrapping her family’s home with thousands of LED lights and other energy-efficient décor, a team of nearly 30 Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) “elves” greeted Halstead-Cox with a banner marked ‘Thank You for Your Service.’
“You guys are very generous,” said Halstead-Cox as she individually shook the hands of every FPL employee who helped make this happen. “This is a lot of work, my goodness, I’m still shocked.”
This celebration marks the 15th consecutive year of FPL’s holiday program recognizing local heroes for commitment to the nation and the community.
“It’s amazing to see the faces of these families light up when they come home and see the surprise,” said Ilan Kaufer, FPL External Affairs Manager. “We thank our local heroes for their service, and we hope that each family’s holidays are a little brighter this year."
Family and friends joined FPL in honoring Halstead-Cox as one of the eight heroes recognized across the state this holiday season.
“She is really a role model, [and] truly deserving of this lighting,” said Daphnee Utter, CEO and Founder of One Life to Live Foundation, who nominated Halstead-Cox for the honor.
Halstead-Cox proudly served in the U.S. Army for four years. During her time, she served through several deployments, including to Iraq, Iran, Germany and throughout the United States.
“It feels really humbling to know that years later people are still grateful for my service,” Halstead-Cox said.
Even 30 years after retiring from the U.S. Army, she continues to serve her community. From working for the Department of Veterans Affairs on the crisis hotline to advocating for youth in the foster care system, Halstead-Cox finds light in helping others.
“She works hard, day and night, so she deserves this,” said 14-year-old daughter Lydia Cox, who was adopted by the Halstead-Cox family five years ago.
When she reflects on her childhood, spending many of her holidays in a group home, Cox said her holidays now include a lot more, “joy, happiness and laughter.”
Halstead-Cox said she tries to make sure each Christmas for her daughter is better than the last, and she thanks FPL for making this the brightest holiday yet.
“She came from a very traumatic past so we wanted to ensure that we provided the kind of life that would be more than ideal,” said Halstead-Cox. “You can’t save every child, but we know we saved her.”
With plenty of lights and love to go around, the Halstead-Cox family is now looking forward to enjoying FPL’s glowing gift this holiday season and for many years to come.