MARION — Marion Professional Firefighters Local 2977 gave Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois an $8,000 donation Friday morning at the Marion Fire Station.
The union raised the funds at its Cash Bash on Feb. 17 at Black Diamond Harley-Davidson Warehouse. The event also raised $2,000 for the Marion Professional Firefighters Scholarship.
Bryan Questelle, chairman of Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois, and Evan Youngblood, the group’s secretary, accepted the check.
Questelle told the firefighters that the average cost to send a veteran on an Honor Flight is about $600. Each veteran is assigned a guardian, who takes care of the veteran for the day. Guardians pay $600 to cover the cost of their flight.
“The biggest cost is for the airliner, and the cost of airliners and jet fuel keep going up,” Questelle said.
The group paid around $62,000 for the plane for their first flight in April 2017. The airliner cost for the upcoming flight will be $71,000. That is an increase of $9,000 in one year.
“This is for veterans. We do it (the fundraiser) to help anywhere there’s a need in Southern Illinois,” Lyndon Perzee, a member of Local 2977, said.
“I want to thank Local 2977 for doing the fundraiser, Black Diamond Harley-Davidson for hosting it and Murphy 500 for the music,” Questelle said.
He added that the event was really fun.
“I intended to stay for the opening ceremony, and I ended up staying until 1 a.m.,” Questelle said.
The next honor flight will be April 24. This is the third flight that has departed from Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois.
The donation was presented at the newly renovated and expanded the Marion Fire Station on Court Street. Chief Jerry Odum said they had been in the station about two weeks. The fire department plans to host an open house later this month.