Home For a Helicopter Vets Memorial

     The first day I met Larry Ayres,
I was introduced to him by my art teacher and yearbook advisor. I am an avid art and media student. My name is Melody Pope and I am a senior at Brodhead High School, a correspondent for a local newspaper, and editor on my school's yearbook staff. My art teacher, Ms. Miller, thought I should meet Larry because he was seeking a simple media project - a video to display at an upcoming fundraiser, a news article submitted to the paper I work for - to advocate for a veteran memorial project. Having a Vietnam veteran in my family through my grandfather and a deep respect for our country's heroes, I was more than happy to take on this project. Little did I know just how beautiful the Home for a Helicopter project was, and how inspired I would be by a man named Larry Ayres.

    Larry previously ran a family business and is currently employed as a bus driver for the Brodhead district. He is a favorite among students. A freshman girl excitedly approached Ms. Miller and I when she saw Larry leaving after we had met for a conversation. She told us about how Mr. Ayres, her bus driver, knew each passenger by name, always told the students good morning and good afternoon, and threw the kids a pool party at the end of the year.  Before this seemingly simple but overall impacting career, Larry was a pilot in the Vietnam war.
    In 2004, Larry (current park persident) and his wife, Karen, became board members of the Green County Veterans Memorial Park in Monroe, WI. They have been instrumental in developing the park through only donations, and are currently seeking help with a Home for a Helicopter.

    Last year, a Huey helicopter was purchased and stored until the proper funds could be obtained to display it at the park as part of the memorial. The current goal is to raise enough funds to refurbish and mount the helicopter. A bake sale was held in February and a dance and dinner fundraiser was held April 2, but the Green County Veterans Memorial Park needs your help to achieve its goal.

    As well as refurbishing and mounting the Huey, funds will also be used to create a gazebo-type building behind the helicopter, including a roster acknowledging and honoring local veterans. 
    What I learned about the Green County Veterans Memorial Park is the primary reason I decided to take this on as a project myself and do everything I can to promote it: it is a sanctuary. Local veterans come to the park to find peace and counseling. The park has become infamous for its serene and hallowed grounds, and is being utilizied as an enormous healing tool for our country's damaged heroes, those who deserve peace and healing more than I can express.
    With every donation - no matter how much you can give - you are contributing to the healing process of a veteran haunted by PTSD. You are saving the marriage of a traumatized soldier who isn't quite sure how to merge back into society. You are placing a memorial to heroes, to the helicopters that meant survival and represented rescue for men who had nearly given up hope. You are contributing to hope, to resilience, to honor the armed forces that protect the United States. You are providing not only a Home For a Helicopter, but sanctuary for a veteran. 

For more information, you can visit the Green County Veterans Memorial Park's website: www.greencountyveterans.org/

or check out our Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/b/103475745829208525298/103475745829208525298/posts
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Organizer and beneficiary

Melody Pope 
Monroe, WI
Jackie Hustad 
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