On Wednesday, the Rittenhouse Senior Living of Valparaiso, hosted a hot dog lunch fundraiser to benefit the Honor Flight Chicago! Honor Flight Chicago is a non-profit organization, founded in Chicago in February 2008, by Mary Pettinato, Jeanmarie Kapp, Nancy Kapp, and Suzanne Stanits. The mission of Honor Flight Chicago is to thank and pay tribute to the estimated 25,000 Chicagoland World War ll veterans, by bringing them to Washington, D.C. for a day of honor and remembrance at no cost to them. As of July 2014, 5,054 World War II Veterans have made the journey. 24 veterans from Northwest Indiana will be making the next flight on September 10th. The last 2 flights of 2014, are scheduled for October 1st and October 30th.
“We feel it is important to support causes that mean the most to our residents. Because many of our residents at Rittenhouse are veterans, it is only natural that we would hold an event to raise funds for such a worthy cause that gives back to those who have served us.” said Natalie Reisen, Marketing Director, Rittenhouse Senior Living of Valparaiso.
Located on the second floor of the facility, is the wall of honor. It holds photos and war memorabilia from current and former residents.
Although this is the first Honor Flight Chicago benefit hosted by Rittenhouse Senior Living of Valparaiso, it is not the first fundraising effort for the facility.
"We try to hold events like this monthly." Reisen stated.
Earlier this month they held a garage sale and raised $700, with the proceeds benefiting the Alzheimers Association.
"We typically hold these events at our facility. It gives the community an opportunity to pop in and see our community as well as allows our residents to easily attend." added Reisen.
Attending the luncheon was 92 year old, Robert Sanders. Affectionately known as, "Colonel Sanders", he flew a B29 in combat in the Mariana Islands. "On September 2, 1945, I flew over the USS Missouri while the Peace Treaty was being signed" Sanders said. When asked what he thought of Honor Flight Chicago, he replied, "I'm glad somebody is still interested in the veterans." Sanders hopes to make the trip to D.C. with Honor Flight Chicago soon!
Len Sherwinski, NWI Outreach Ambassador for Honor Flight Chicago, is a Army veteran who served from 1970-1972. He became involved with the program 2 years ago. While traveling on business, he saw this group at the Midway Airport, saw what they were doing, and wanted to become involved. He states, "I try to find as many WWII veterans here in Northwest Indiana as I can. Our biggest challenge right now, is finding those veterans." He urges anyone that has a relative or friend that served, to contact him at 219-670-2410.
"The ultimate goal for the program is to move on from WWII veterans to the Korean War veterans." said Sherwinski. Applications are currently being accepted for Korean War and Vietnam veterans.
On the return flight home from Washington D.C., the veterans are presented a package from Honor Flight Chicago and mail from friends and family members, thanking them for their service. As a final surprise, a large group of family, friends, area church members, veterans, and current military, gather at Midway Airport in Chicago to welcome them back home. The celebration has as many as 2000 in attendance. Everyone is welcomed to join the group celebration!
If you are interested in learning more about Honor Flight Chicago, visit their website at http://honorflightchicago.org or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Honor-Flight-Chicago.
Rittenhouse Senior Living of Valparaiso is located 1300 Vale Park Rd, Valparaiso, IN 46383. For more information or a schedule of events, visit their website at http://www.rittenhousesl.com/comm-valparaiso or contact Natalie Reisen at (219) 531-2484. You can find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rittenhouse-Senior-Living-of-Valparaiso