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Veterans foundation donates money to Honor Flight program

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 7:22 a.m. CDT
Crystal Kwasman (left), DuPage Veterans Foundation Vice President David Sabathne, West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda (second from right) and DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin present Mary Pettinato, CEO of Honor Flight Chicago (center), with a check for $55,012 to fund a flight of World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to view the war memorials. Submitted photo

WHEATON – On behalf of the DuPage Veterans Foundation, DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin and Crystal Kwasman of West Chicago presented Honor Flight Chicago with a check last week for $55,012 to fund a flight of World War II veterans to Washington, D.C.

“The DuPage community has a rich history of supporting our military men and women who have fought to preserve our freedom,” Cronin said. “Through the DuPage Veterans Foundation, we have a unique opportunity to raise money to celebrate these humble heroes through a day of honor and remembrance as they travel to Washington, D.C. to view the war memorials. The foundation has raised enough money to fund an entire flight of DuPage County veterans for this special tribute.”

The DuPage Veterans Foundation was organized two years ago to raise money for local World War II veterans to travel to Washington. The foundation’s first fundraiser honored more than 100 local World War II heroes and raised $55,012 for Honor Flight Chicago. Since 2008, Honor Flight Chicago has flown 3,900 veterans to view the war memorials.

Mary Pettinato, founder and chief executive officer of Honor Flight Chicago, said the organization’s mission relies solely on donations from the community.

“On behalf of Honor Flight Chicago, I would like to thank the DuPage County community and the DuPage Veterans Foundation for financially supporting our mission. It’s important that we honor these senior heroes before it’s too late,” Pettinato said. “Right now, we are asking the community to help us reach the 21,000 World War II veterans residing in the Chicagoland area who have not signed up to participate in an honor flight. A majority of these veterans have never traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit the war memorials. It’s important that they have an opportunity to see how their nation has honored their service and sacrifice.”

The Honor Flight Fundraiser, scheduled in May, is dedicated to the memory of West Chicago Mayor Mike Kwasman, who was a driving force in organizing the fundraiser until his untimely death a year ago. His widow, Crystal, said her husband always supported the military, which is why the family requested that all donations from his funeral go toward the DuPage Veterans Foundation to help pay for an honor flight. Kwasman served as mayor of West Chicago for six years.

“Anyone who ever heard my husband speak on Memorial Day knew how much he supported the military. There was never a dry eye in the audience,” Crystal Kwasman said. “His support started as a little boy when he would go with his grandfather to military functions. His love, support and admiration for the men and women who serve our country was huge. I always knew one way or another he would get a flight of those men and women to Washington, D.C.”

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