The Saratoga Sun -

The seeds of community spirit

 

Max Miller

The little watermelon fundraisers present their donation to Trout Unlimited members. From left to right, Joleigh Shahadey, Jim States (Trout Unlimited president), Tony Seahorn (Trout Unlimited director), Bailey the dog, Koen Shahadey and Pat Wallace.

When the fourth of July rolled around this year, Joleigh and Koen Shahadey wanted to celebrate their patriotism with more than fireworks and parades. The 6-year old sister and 7-year-old brother, decided to raise money for the annual Wounded Warrior Event, which benefits disabled veterans of the armed forces.

With a little help from their grandparents Susan and Randy Wallace the siblings set up a table next to Saratoga's Independence Day parade route. The two handed out slices of watermelon to the public and placed a donation jar alongside the midsummer treats. All of the proceeds went towards helping disabled veterans.

Between about 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., the kids raised $263 Susan Wallace said. She said that her and her husband provided eight watermelons for the event and the children "got rid of every piece."

After the parade-goers had dispersed and the money had been collected, the Shahadey children presented a donation check to Vietnam Veteran Tony Seahorn, the Director of the Platte Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited. Trout Unlimited sponsors the three-day Wounded Warrior Event every summer for disabled veterans at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in Cheyenne. According to Seahorn, "The program is designed to provide a relaxing time in nature to promote healing from the wounds of war." It allows vets to take part in activities such as rafting and horseback riding .

Susan Wallace described the presentation of the check as a highlight for the two children. "(Koen) was very excited to meet a real wounded warrior," she said. Susan Wallace said that one of the reasons the kids chose to donate to the Wounded Warrior Event was that the program is a "total volunteer program," so there are no overhead costs to run it and all the money raised would be going directly to help disabled veterans.

It's never too early to plant the (watermelon) seeds of charitable giving and community spirit.

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