PHOTO COURTESY OF MAT WAGNER
Lanesboro High School students Coy Pederson and Brynn Howerton are co-chairing the Honor Flight fundraising dinner, which will be held Wednesday, April 26, at the Lanesboro High School gym.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MAT WAGNER Lanesboro High School students Coy Pederson and Brynn Howerton are co-chairing the Honor Flight fundraising dinner, which will be held Wednesday, April 26, at the Lanesboro High School gym.
While many teenagers are preoccupied with sports, music, their smartphones, or just hanging out, two Lanesboro High School sophomores are helping to organize an event to honor area men and women who have served their country.

Brynn Howerton and Coy Pederson agreed to co-chair a dinner to raise money for the Freedom Honor Flight Network. The event will take place Wednesday, April 26, at the Lanesboro High School gymnasium, beginning at 6 p.m.

“Mr. G (Lanesboro instructor Jim Gladis) told us about the Freedom Honor Flight program, what it is all about and if we might be interested in putting on some type of event to raise money for it,” Howerton recalled. “Coy and I decided we would like to work on this project and it is really coming together.”

“There are 11 Lanesboro area veterans going on the next honor flight and we’re planning on honoring them at the dinner,” Pederson added.

Both Howerton and Pederson have relatives who have served in the military. Howerton noted that both of her grandfathers served in Vietnam, while Pederson’s grandfather was stationed in Germany shortly after World War II.

“I love studying history,” Pederson said. “I’ve had family members who have served in just about every war.”

“Studying history and the wars our country has been involved in becomes much more personal when you have relatives who fought in those wars,” Howerton added. “And it makes what we’re doing with this fundraising dinner that much more special.”

Once Howerton and Pederson decided to organize the event, they began discussing it with their friends and classmates. It didn’t take long for the two Burro sophomores to convince other Lanesboro teens to buy into the idea. Members of the Lanesboro FFA and FCCLA chapters will help with selling and taking tickets, serve the meal and bus the tables. A number of Lanesboro teachers will be helping with the event as well.

The fundraising dinner will include pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, coleslaw, apple pie bars and beverages.

Serving will begin shortly after 6 p.m. and a short program will begin at 7:30.

The program, written and produced by Lanesboro students, will be a Powerpoint presentation on the history of the Freedom Honor Flight program. The 11 Lanesboro area vets who will be taking part in the May 6 Freedom Honor Flight will be introduced.

One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the April 26 event will go directly to the Freedom Honor Flight organization of La Crosse.

The Freedom Honor Flight flies veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials built in their honor. The day trip includes visits to the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Wall, Marine Corps War Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. With spring and fall flights, the organization coordinates the transportation and itinerary of more than 200 veterans annually. To date, more than 1,800 area veterans have participated in the regional hub program thanks to individual donations, fundraisers and volunteers.

Thanks to a recent rule change by the national Honor Flight organization, now any veteran is eligible for an honor flight. Priority is given to World War II veterans, then Korean War era veterans, then Vietnam War veterans, with seats awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

The veterans are accompanied on the flight with physicians and paramedics who help with oxygen, medication and personal needs. This enables those with chronic health problems or disabilities to attend. A guardian assigned to each veteran provides additional assistance.

“We do talk about war and how things in the Middle East could affect us in the future,” Pederson said.

“Kids really don’t like talking about it (war),” Howerton added. “But taking part in this event might help with some more dialog.”

For persons who might not be able to attend the dinner, but would like to donate to the cause, they can send donations to Lanesboro Public School; in care of Honor Freedom flight, 100 Kirkwood St. E, Lanesboro, MN 55949.