Thank you to all who came out and made contributions to the Greater Peoria Honor Flight fundraiser today in our parking lot downtown Peoria. Committee members and Radio Peoria personalities hung out for 12 hours under the big tent, collecting thousands of dollars from you Patriotic listeners.
The Honor Flight program came into existance just eight years ago in Ohio. Area veterans over the past years who wanted to take part in flying to Washington, D.C. with the Honor Flight had to trek to Springfield. Now, on June 4, central Illinois vets will fly directly from Peoria to our nation's Capitol to see their respective war memorials, at no cost to the vets. Of course, the flight, food and transportation in D.C. aren't free, hence the need to raise $80,000 for the Peoria flight.
On the initial flight, 78 veterans from 23 area towns will make the trip. Each vet will be accompanied by a guardian, who donates $500 of their own money to make sure the veteran has an unforgetable experience. None of these 78 veterans has seen their memorials before. Already, over 60 veterans have submitted applications to go on the second flight, expected to happen in September.
Many veterans dropped by Radio Peoria today to tell their stories and make donations. One of them, Leland Chandler, was held as a prisoner of war in Japan for three and a half years. He weighed just 84 pounds when liberated and has a harrowing story of 50 American nurses who were also captured in the Phillipines theater. To hear some of his interview, click on the "Podcasts" button at the top of this page. And if you were unable to make it here today, you can make a donation at their website: GreaterPeoriaHonorFlight.org or their Facebook page.