Outpouring of support for the Honor Flight

Bancroft baseball fundraiser grows, with multiple families offering matching funds

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter Brushy Creek Honor Flight Director Ron Newsum talks with Mary Goche Ludwig, of Wesley, who presented the flight with a check for $4,200. Her family sponsored a fundraiser at “Patriotic Night” at the Bancroft Bandits collegiate baseball game, which grew on Facebook far beyond what she expected.

BANCROFT — When Mary Goche Ludwig’s family started a fundraiser during “Patriotic Night” at a Bancroft baseball game, she didn’t know how much would be raised for the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight.

“I guess I didn’t know what to expect,” Ludwig said. “I never dreamed it would be what we got.”

But thanks to matching donations from her family and several others, what could have been an event worth a few hundred dollars ended up raising a total of $4,200 to send area veterans on a trip to see the memorials in their honor in Washington, D.C.

Ludwig, who now lives in Wesley, said her family always gives a donation to the Honor Flight. This year is the second year the Bancroft Bandits summer collegiate team has been playing, and Ludwig’s father Jim Goche and his family sponsored a game.

The family decided to match the donations from that night, up to $1,000, and see what would happen.

What happened was an outpouring of support.

“I thought we’d get $1s and $5s,” Ludwig said. “There was $20s and you know….we had a 50 in there.”

“I posted on the Bancroft Bandits Facebook page that we were going to match up to $1,000,” Ludwig said. “One of the kids on the Bandits team is originally from California, … His parents come from a big military background.

“They said, ‘We’re going to match the Goches’ thousand dollars.'”

After that, others sent checks to add to the total, Ludwig said. Hundreds of dollars were donated in memory of veterans Allan Wesselmann, Don Rahe and Cletus Dorr.

“We were $40 off, so my boss threw in a $20, and I matched the $20,” Ludwig said. “I thought, we’ve got to get enough to send seven veterans.”

It costs $600 to send each veteran on the flight, said Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight founder Ron Newsum, and the veterans themselves are never required to pay anything. While the flight does get industry support, much of the money comes from ordinary people holding fundraisers like this one.

“CJ (Bio) America has given us $5,000 a couple times, but basically it is community effort,” Newsum said. “Pancake breakfasts, church suppers.”

“Humboldt does a lot of different activities that raise money up there, but this is significant to have that much money raised in one event,” said Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Treasurer Mel Schroeder.

This will be the 15th Brushy Creek Honor Flight, leaving Fort Dodge in September. About 140 veterans will be on this trip, including two veterans of World War II and about 30 from the Korean war. The rest will be Vietnam veterans.

Six of those veterans will be from Kossuth County. Each county is to provide the funds for its veterans, Schroeder said, so the funds from this one Kossuth County ball game will more than fill that obligation.

The Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight originally took veterans from only seven counties, but as more veterans applied they weren’t turned away “just for being on the wrong side of a county line,” Newsum said. To date the flight has taken veterans from 48 counties.

During their day in Washington, D.C., the vets get to experience the Lincoln, Korean and Vietnam monuments as well as the World War II memorial. The lowering of the flag and changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery is next. Their day ends at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial just outside Arlington Cemetery.