Local military families can call on two veterans when they need a hand traveling to their wounded loved ones.
Donn Rospert and Jerry Risner of the Wounded Soldier Fund, a nonprofit organization in Bellevue, strive to aid area military personnel and their families wanting to visit their wounded sons or daughters. Since the organization’s founding in 2005, eight area families have been helped in their times of need.
Rospert and Risner, trustees and former soldiers during the Vietnam and Iraq wars, respectively, started the organization to fill a need they saw in the area. Though not as grand in size and services as the Wounded Warrior Project, making local families happy is their mission.
“We want to help those (in our area) who have served our country and need funds,” Rospert said.
In addition to the towns and cities closely around Bellevue, they help out soldiers within 30 to 40 miles of town. The organization helped a family as far as 45 miles away in Galion, Ohio, who wanted to go see their son in Washington, D.C., around Christmas to celebrate his first year of being home.
“They skipped opening Christmas presents to go be with him,” he said.
Another area family wanted to visit their wounded soldier in Germany, and the organization stepped up to help the family visit their loved one.
“The government paid the tab for the airplane and we paid for the transportation, lodging and food of the family while helping them obtain their passports,” he said, something that normally happens when transporting a family to their loved one.
Though they don’t have supplies like wheelchairs and walkers on hand, the organization will go out of its way to help.
“If there is a need for a wheelchair, we will buy one,” Rospert said. “We supplement any needs any (soldier and his or her family) have.”
Among the organization’s popular fundraisers are a steak dinner in spring and the John Martin Memorial 5K and 10K in late May, where personal and corporate donations are accepted.
A new fundraiser this year, the Pete Mayer Poker Run, was held May 31 to coincide with Ohio Bike Week. The Poker Run ended at Roeder’s Harley Davidson in Monroeville and raised about $6,000 for the organization, according to Patricia Mayer, Pete’s wife.
Pete, a poker and motorcycle enthusiast, passed away about two years ago.
“We had about 400 motorcycles participate this year,” she said. “It’s a great cause. I’m glad everyone came out; we raised a lot of money this year.”
Many volunteers assist Risner and Rospert, eager to do whatever task needs to be done.
“We’ve had no problem getting the help we need (at events),” Rospert said. “In fact, several (volunteers) ask when the next event will be.”
Surrounding communities haven’t hesitated giving donations to the fund.
“We depend on the populace for donations and they have been very gracious in helping us,” he said. “We’re always looking for sponsors.”
“We’re thankful for the individuals and businesses that have helped us out,” he added. “They’re fantastic people.”
Wounded Soldiers Fund is a 501c (3) tax exempt organization. Those interested in making a donation can visit Firelands Federal Credit Union at their locations in Bellevue, Galion, Bucyrus or Monroeville or call the credit union at 419-483-4180.