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Best Friends Fundraise for Wounded Warriors and their Families

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“Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life's blood. But everyone has something to give.” Barbara Bush

It has been said that life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more and when it's a child it takes on an even deeper meaning. Best friends from Illinois, Madeline Kaufman (10) and Brooke Patten (10) are doing just that; “becoming more” by raising funds for wounded warriors and their families.

Madeline and Brooke learned at a young age what honoring our military truly meant. Madeline’s mom, Maureen said, “We have open discussions at our dinner table about politics, military and world events. I think it’s not only important to teach our children current events, but to also let them voice their opinions. My father served in the Navy, so I have a deep appreciation after hearing him speak so highly of his time in service and what it meant to him”.

Inspired by a commercial for an organization raising money to help others, the two best friends collaborated on a fund raising idea and chose to set up a lemonade stand -- then they decided to donate the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).

The Wounded Warrior Project mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors. Unlike the unwelcomed thousands of Vietnam Veteran’s before them, the Wounded Warrior Project’s vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded warriors in this nation's history.

With the help of Brooke’s mom, Gina Patton, they built their stand complete with signs and red, white and blue balloons in Downers Grove. By the day’s end they had raised $101.60, all of which they donated to the WWP.

I asked the girls why they chose the WWP and Madeline stated that, “They sacrifice their own lives for others and defend our country”. Brooke added, “The WWP helps the soldiers and their families that come back injured and I think it’s a good thing to help them.”

Both girls come from a military background; Madeline’s grandfather, John Tobin, served in the United States Navy and her cousin, Colonel Kyle McClelland served in the Army for 29 years. Brooke’s grandfather served in the Air Force and her great uncle was career Army with several cousins in Army as well.

Madeline and Brooke are proud to say they also learned a great deal of patriotism at their school, Lace Elementary School in Darien, Illinois. The school teaches awareness regarding the military and what they do for our country. Every Veteran’s Day they have an assembly to honor the local veterans. The children make stars honoring a military person they know and they decorate the gymnasium walls with the brilliant stars. The children sing patriotic songs. The girl’s 3rd grade teacher has a son in the Air Force and he came and spoke at one of the assemblies.

Memorial Day is approaching, so Madeline and Brooke are working hard to get things rolling for another lemonade stand. This year they will again raise money for our military; this time they will donate the proceeds to the Fisher House Foundation. The foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay, at no cost, while a loved one receives military medical treatment. It’s important to have loved ones as close as possible while healing from traumatic and life changing injuries.

The girls are surrounded by teachings of what it means to be a great and proud American. It’s people like those adults who should be commended, as well as the children, who absorb the teachings around them.

As a news reporter I see all kinds of stories and sadly most of them are negative. I am proud to write this one because it demonstrates that we all can do something – even the smallest of gestures, to change the world one day and one person at a time.

What we teach our children is what they pass on….these young ladies were taught that love of country, honoring those who sacrifice, and never forgetting those who serve is key to being a true and good American.

Please remember that “freedom is not free” – those that serve our country are a vital link to our national security apparatus – living out MacArthur’s motto of “duty honor, respect.

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