Best-selling author and psychiatrist M. Scott Peck once wrote: “When I am with a group of human beings committed to hanging in there through both the agony and the joy of community, I have a dim sense that I am participating in a phenomenon for which there is only one word ... ‘glory.’”
The glory and magnificence of the human spirit — and the amazing difference that one community can make — was evident Saturday night when over 500 people gathered at the Germantown American Legion to raise funds for the Jared Burke Foundation (JBF).
While final proceeds had not been tabulated at press time, it is estimated that the third annual JBF banquet raised over $65,000 to help the organization continue its mission.
The Jared Burke Foundation is named in honor of Jared Burke who was killed in a hunting accident at the age of 16 during the November 1999 deer season. Jared loved to hunt, fish and be outdoors. His family and friends established the foundation as a means of promoting hunter safety and enabling disadvantaged hunters to turn their outdoor adventures into lasting lifetime memories.
John Burke of Bartelso, Jared’s brother who spearheaded the foundation along with other family members, commented, “When we first started this organization, we never would have thought we would be where we are now.
“It has been a lot of fun these past few years through the help of great folks on our committee and the generosity of the great folks in the surrounding area. It has been one fantastic and rewarding experience.”
Lucky number 23.
That was the number that won the New Baden American Legion’s Queen of Hearts drawing last Thursday.
And Teri Strate-Crane of New Baden won the jackpot of $17,014.
“I’m still in shock,” Crane said on Monday afternoon.
Crane is the village clerk for the village of New Baden. She was the lucky winner last Thursday, Feb. 16, for the Queen of Hearts drawing with the New Baden American Legion.
For 16 weeks, the legion has been playing the Queen of Hearts drawing.
How the drawing works is that it starts with 52 cards and two jokers. The winner of the weekly drawing “guesses” which number on the game board that the Queen of Hearts card is located behind. If a different card is revealed, the jackpot grows to the next week.
The drawing on Thursday still had 38 cards left.
Legion manager Brittany Smith said that every week, there is roughly 3,500 raffle tickets in the barrel to get drawn.
“It grew to $17,014 over the course of 16 weeks,” Smith said.
When Crane’s name was drawn from the raffle on Feb. 16, that was the first gamble, since the number of raffle tickets in the drawing has increased week by week.
Next, Crane had to see if she would pull the right tab for the Queen of Hearts, which wasn’t going to be easy since she had two numbers that she always uses.
Her numbers, 11 and 23, were her dad, retired Illinois State Police trooper Charlie Strate’s squad car numbers.
“I always used those numbers,” Crane said.
Crane said she went back and forth from 11 and 23 and picked 23. Luckily, she did because it was the winner.
“I think when I pulled the tab both me and (manager) Brittany Smith were shocked,” Crane said.
Cheers were heard among the crowd and everyone in the packed Legion offered their well wishes and congratulations to Crane.
Crane also credits her good luck to her 17-year-old son, Charlie, who also was in attendance last Thursday night at the Legion.
Normally, Charlie doesn’t attend the weekly Thursday night drawing, and sometimes Crane doesn’t attend either. Usually, she is bowling on Thursday nights.
“But, I put my $10 in for the draw and here I am,” she said.
The Legion collects 10 percent of the winnings and Crane’s take-home payout was $15,300.
“The money that we get to keep goes toward operating expenses,” said Smith, adding that the plan is to use more money into renovating the Legion home.
Crane’s plans with her winnings?
She had a Mexican vacation trip already planned, so some of the money will go toward that, in addition to placing a new modular home on the lot that she already has.
The plans were already in the works, but the money will be used to help with the expenses.
“I’m so grateful,” Crane said.
“And so thankful.”
The Legion will have a new Queen of Hearts drawing, beginning this Thursday, Feb. 23, with the jackpot up to $3,879. The drawing starts promptly at 7:30 p.m. There are drink and food specials available, a 50/50 raffle and attendance prizes awarded as well.
Alpha is just 5 months old and comes from a long line of labrador retrievers who are hunters by nature.
However, in about eight months Alpha will be matched with a veteran, or possibly a first-responder, who is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For the first year of his life, Alpha has been training to become a PTSD service dog with Nicole Lanahan, a certified professional dog trainer and founder of Got Your Six Support Dogs in Maryville.
Got Your Six supports veterans and first-responders who struggle with PTSD as well as sexual trauma. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to help these men and women regain their lives through the healing power of dogs.
This mission is made possible by charitable contributions like those made over the past few years by United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Local 2295. On Sunday, Local 2295 members met in Germantown for their monthly meeting and presented Got Your Six Support Dogs with a $3,000 donation. This is the third donation made by Local 2295, making their total contribution just under $6,000.
In addition, UMWA Local 2295 has committed to making a $3,000 donation to the service dog organization every January.
In appreciation of Local 2295’s generous sponsorship, Got Your Six presented the members with a plaque of appreciation.
Heather Chapman, chair of administration for Got Your Six, commented, “You guys have been a real supporter since we started out the gate. We want to thank you for what you’re doing for our veterans and first responders. The impact that we’ve been able to make on their lives is just amazing.
Got Your Six also gave Local 2295 naming rights for one of its newest support dogs. Alpha, the first letter in the military alphabet, was the name chosen.
Lanahan explained that in addition to Alpha, there are currently six other support dogs in training with Got Your Six.
She said Got Your Six Support Dogs was developed out of the need of veterans and first-responders requesting PTSD service dogs when all other methods of treatment have failed. Due to a high demand for PTSD service dogs and low accessibility to them, Got Your Six fills that need by training dogs for veterans and first-responders who see this option as a last resort to surviving PTSD.
The selected dogs are trained by certified trainers for approximately one year and then matched with an applicant. The pairings occur over a 10-day period. During this time the recipient also attends a daily trauma resiliency/suicide prevention course led by a licensed therapist.
Because the dogs are the property of Got Your Six Support Dogs, annual certification is required as well as periodic home visits to ensure the welfare of both the recipient and service dog. The dog, training equipment, hotel stay, breakfast and lunch, training program, and trauma resiliency course are provided to the recipient at no cost.
The average cost to train a PTSD service dog for a veteran is between $12,000 and $15,000. The reason this number is so high is because, along with food, grooming, toys and training equipment, there are thousands of hours of training involved in certifying a support dog.
While the group currently operates at a training facility in Maryville, the long-term goal is to acquire land to eventually build a facility with classrooms for training, a separate area for therapy and bedrooms and a small kitchen so that service dog recipients can stay on-site during the 10-day period when dogs are matched with the recipients.
As a charitable corporation, Got Your Six relies on donations to cover its expenses and operating costs so the expense to the veteran is minimal. Even the smallest donation helps make a difference in a veteran’s life.
Visit www.gotyoursixsupportdogs.com to learn more or to donate to this wonderful, life-changing organization.
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