Family ReunionJeffrey True (left) with Bob Harred (2nd from right). The guardian is his grandson, Cooper Harred (far right). He is a junior at SCC. The Marine is his other grandson, Bryce Joonas who surprised him at the Iwo Jima Memorial.
Jeff True a high school a 29 year social studies teacher and leader of Southern Coffey Honor Flight let me know they were going to be at the Iwo Jima Memorial. I have known Southern Coffey for a long time now as I have always been impressed by the fact that students raise the funds to pay for the Honor Flight and act as guardians. Quite an undertaking especially as it is a multi-day trip.
Southern Coffey KansasHigh School Guardians pose with veterans at the Iwo Jima Memorial
I asked Jeff True about Southern Coffey's flights and he said:
"We had 24 veterans paired with 24 high school guardians. We had 8 other adult guardians, including a medical doctor from our local hospital. We always pair up a veteran with one of our high schoolers. It is pretty AMAZING to see the interaction and bonds that are created between the two different generations. We would never consider doing it any different!
We always take 56 people total because that is the number that fills a charter bus. Our trips cost just over $30,000 per trip, and we take two trips per year. One in April and one in November. We have transported 430 veterans in the 15 trips that we have done so far. Planning our 16th trip for April 11 and 12, 2019.
All who go on the trips go at NO cost to them. The money for our trips is raised in a wide variety of ways. Our students and two communities of LeRoy and Gridley, Kansas work throughout the year to help raise money to fund our trips. Both towns combined have a population of around 900. Our high school this year has a total of 63 students in the top four grades.
We receive a lot of generous donations from individuals in the area. Also receive funeral memorial contributions from family members of deceased veterans who had made the trip with us in the past. Our local Mason's group has raised and donated over $100,000 to us in the past three years. We have raffles, breakfasts, 5K runs, etc. I had a little kindergarten student donate $75 to our Honor Flight after she sold lemonade on a Saturday last month. It is really remarkable where the money comes from!"..." Our Honor Flight hub was started by Mike Kastle. He is now the hub coordinator for the Parsons High School Honor Flight."