Community members gather on Wrightsville Beach to remember Jeremy Owens with a paddle out ceremony

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) –More than a hundred family, friends, and colleagues of Jeremy Owens gathered in Wrightsville Beach to celebrate and remember him. Owens served as Captain of Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue until his unexpected death last November.

Today, two large events were held in the day-long celebration and  remembrance of Jeremy Owens at Wrightsville Beach.

A memorial paddle out ceremony was held, where lifeguard stand number 8 was dedicated in his memory, and Jeremy’s ocean rescue number “81” was retired.

The ceremony was followed by an evening event at Jimmy’s, a local bar, featuring live bands, and an auction to raise money for the Volunteer Firefighter Association, and raise awareness for brain health, in Jeremy’s memory.

“I think Jeremy is a great example of someone who was larger than life. You know, ocean rescue captain, firefighter, stuntman, and he suffered something that’s not easily diagnosed of fixable. I mean, you break an arm or a leg, that’s easy, but mental or brain health is very, very, complicated, and we have a fundamental problem in this country with treatment. I mean, our men and women in public safety, or the military, they deserve more, and the only way we’re going to get change is to have awareness,” said Sam Proffitt, friend of Jeremy Owens, and Captain of Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue.

Jeremy’s mother, Debbie Owens, shared that she was thankful for the community’s support, sharing the importance the paddle out ceremony had.

“To see all the many people he touched, and that still live on through him, this meant so much to us, for that, because it is a symbol of Hawaii, and if you look up the circle and what the circle really means, it has a meaning of making sure communities heal,” said Debbie Owens, Jeremy Owens mother.

She also said in the center of the surfers during the paddle out, they were also able to give Jeremy a final send-off at sea.

“His ashes were put out in the center, and so the whole family was really able to be here, and show our respects and honor to Jeremy,” said Debbie Owens. “As I said in my little speech, I was blessed to have him the number of years I had him.”

Sam Proffitt, a friend and colleague of Owens, said his friend had a great impact on the Wrightsville Beach community, and was much deserving of the events held in his memory.

“He would be furious. You know, he has never liked to be the center of attention, but you know, again this just shows the impact that he had, and as far as family, for the department, for everyone to appreciate what he was. You know, he never wanted credit for anything, he never wanted to be in the spotlight, but he impacted everybody, and today is a day for us to all sit back and think about those memories of Jeremy, to keep him alive,” said Proffitt.

Money is being raised through a GoFundMe for the Jeremy Owens Strength & Conditioning Training Center”, that will be located in Wrightsville Beach. The center will serve the Wrightsville Beach Fire Department, Police Department, and Ocean Rescue to help enhance their physical and mental strength in Jeremy’s name.

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