By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
FULTON, Ill. —
Area communities and organizations are coming together to raise money for wounded warriors in need at a new event.
Barb Suehl-Janis has started the first Wounded Warriors benefit with the help of many local organizations.
The benefit, from 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Fulton Fire Station, will raise money to go toward the Wounded Warrior Project and help wounded soldiers across the Midwest region get the help they need, with a goal of raising $15,000.
It all started from a tragic and life-changing event for a close friend. Dickey Bullers, friend and co-partner of Suehl-Janis in serving at the Fulton annual Christmas Dinner, died in a tragic bicycle accident Aug. 27.
“A week before his death, he called me from Iowa City V.A. Hospital and said, ‘Barb, we have to do something for the wounded warriors,” Suehl-Janis said.
When Barb asked why, Bullers said, “Because, I am out here in Iowa City right now getting a checkup and there are so many who do not have legs, arm, eyes, half of their faces are missing, and, I am only here because my ticker isn’t very good anymore and I feel guilty!”
He had been talking to these veterans and the Wounded Warriors Foundation for the region was and still is in great need for funds to continue to help these veterans and their families with their everyday needs, Suehl-Janis said.
Dickey died shortly after that conversation as the result of hitting his head on a curb when his bike tipped over. He was declared brain dead and taken off life support in Iowa City.
“This man would give anyone his very last shirt and feel happy about the fact that he was able to help someone who needed it worse than he did,” Suehl-Janis said.
“I was going to be a quitter after Dickey died because he helped me with so many benefits and I just felt empty,” Suehl-Janis said. “After feeling sorry for myself for about two weeks, I decided more than ever, I need to do this benefit.”
While getting the event started rested primarily in her hands, the community has shown overwhelming support for the special event. American Legion of Fulton will put up flags downtown to honor the event, Kiwanis Club of Fulton will lead a bucket brigade and both Clinton High School and Fulton High School cheerleaders will cheer on every veteran who enters the event.
Fulton Masonic Lodge recently held a bake sale to raise money for the cause and made $1,000.
While the event hasn’t started yet, Suehl-Janis has already received $2,650 towards her goal of $15,000.
The local ABATE motorcycle group will host a 50/50 raffle and the Fulton Fire Department will provide food fresh off the grill. Larry Huizenga will be making some special barbecued pulled pork sandwiches. Coupe de Ville will be playing music from 4- 7 p.m.
After all her hard work getting the event started and assembling local groups for support, Suehl-Janis is really hoping it pays off.
“It took quite a lot to even get approved by the Wounded Warriors leaders to have this benefit sanctioned, but, I did get approval and now my mission is set,” Suehl-Janis said. “I must try and make a difference in the lives of those who have given so much for us.”
Those looking to donate can make checks payable to Wounded Warriors Project and mail them to 1208 Third St., Fulton, IL 61252. For more information, contact Suehl-Janis at (815) 589-9191. To learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project, visit http://www.proudsupporterwwp.org.