Members of the Knights of Columbus from Delaware County are helping aging veterans stay on the move.
Knights of Columbus Council 1056 will present 20 wheelchairs to the Honor Flight Network this weekend during a ceremony at Port Columbus International Airport. The presentation caps off a year-long fundraising effort during which the local Knights collected $5,500 in donations to pay for the purchase of the wheelchairs.
The event is planned for Saturday morning, beginning with the identification and tagging of the wheelchairs at 9:30 a.m. in the Delta baggage claim area at Port Columbus. The ceremony will follow at 10 a.m. and last about 15 minutes, according to organizers.
Tom May, a veteran and member of the Knights of Columbus Council 1056, said he was inspired to be part of the initiative after participating in an Honor Flight. He served as co-chairman of the effort.
“I needed a wheelchair, and I realized how many vets rely on them for each flight,” he said. “I saw this as a worthy cause.”
May also said the wheelchair donation is “a wonderful way to show support and appreciation for older veterans.”
“This is a great addition to our operations,” said Jim Downing, president of Honor Flight Columbus. “Taking World War II and Korean War veterans to see their memorials in Washington requires a chartered airliner, three motor coaches and 60 wheelchairs for each flight. These new chairs will upgrade our ability to provide our veterans with a day of honor and celebration for their service to America.”
The Knights of Columbus organized the campaign in conjunction with the Delaware County Foundation. The initial fundraising goal was $2,250 to provide for the purchase of 15 wheelchairs.
“Our fundraising efforts started a year ago and included having a float in the Olentangy Township July Fourth parade and a concert that evening,” said Mark Fowler, campaign co-chairman.
May and Fowler will be in attendance at Saturday’s ceremony along with fellow Knights Scott Linnane, the current Grand Knight of Council 1056, and David Ayscue III, immediate past Grand Knight of Council 1056. Ayscue started the campaign with May and Fowler.
Honor Flight Network executives will also attend the ceremony.
Honor Flight Columbus has provided free trips to Washington, D.C., for more than 4,000 senior veterans. The one-day “Tour of Honor” trips allow veterans of World War II and Korea to visit the various veterans’ memorials in the nation’s capital. Thanks to donations, Honor Flight Network has been able to provide wheelchairs for about 2,000 men and women who required the service during these trips.
For information, visit www.HonorFlightColumbus.org or call 614-284-4987.
Andrew Carter can be reached at 740-413-0902 and on Twitter @AndrewCarterDG.