MARION — Pepsi Mid America, along with Black-Diamond Harley-Davidson, presented Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois with a large donation Friday afternoon at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois.
The donation of $ 14,035 was the proceeds from a motorcycle raffle sponsored by Pepsi. Black Diamond Harley-Davidson offered Pepsi officials a HD Sportster 883 Iron motorcycle at cost. Pepsi and Black Diamond sold tickets for $ 25 and limited the number of tickets sold to 1,000.
While the inaugural Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois was returning to Marion, a ticket was drawn for the motorcycle. The lucky winner was Charley Rodriguez.
Doug Deaton, director of marketing at Pepsi MidAmerica, explained that Nancy Brown met with officials at Pepsi to tell them about Honor Flight. Brown is vice-president of the board of Honor Flight of Southern Illinois. She asked them to help raise awareness and asked them to do a fundraiser.
“We’ve been blessed to be able to work with Black Diamond Harley-Davidson,” Deaton said.
Ken Furry of Pepsi MidAmerica added that they did the fundraiser from idea to giveaway in less than 90 days. He added that Pepsi has good staff and good partnership with Black Diamond.
“We’re going to do it again,” Daniel Nalley, vice president of operations for Pepsi MidAmerica, said.
Nalley said Pepsi would announce the second fundraiser for Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois during the concert Saturday evening at HerrinFesta Italiana.
“We’re proud to be a part of it ourselves, and we’ll definitely do it again,” Shad Zimbro, co-owner of Black Diamond Harley-Davidson, said.
Nancy Brown said it was a great donation that Pepsi MidAmerica and Black Diamond Harley-Davidson made to Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois.
“Pepsi has been the biggest supporter in the area, and I can’t say enough about them,” Brown said. “The entire population of Southern Illinois has been so generous.”
Brown added that everyone has played a crucial part in the group being able to take its first group of veterans to Washington D.C. so quickly, not only donors, but also the volunteers, guardians, veterans and others. The group is raising funds for its second trip, tentatively scheduled in October.
They also have a new way for Southern Illinoisans to honor their veterans. For a $ 100 sponsorship, a veteran’s name can be added to a wheel chair for one year to honor a loved one, living or deceased, who served in the military. The wheelchairs are used during honor flights to transport veterans who are not used to walking, tire easily or have limited mobility.
The group also is signing up veterans, guardians and volunteers for future flights. Priority is given to veterans of World War II, the Korean War or those who have a terminal illness, but the group also takes applications from Korean and Vietnam War veterans.