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Renville County to host event for families of fallen heroes across Minnesota

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OLIVIA -- A dozen young men who have called west central Minnesota home during their youths have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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They are among 68 Minnesotans who made the supreme sacrifice in Iraq and 26 who have done so to date in Afghanistan, according to Fallen Heroes, which honors their memories.

Their ultimate sacrifice, and the ongoing sacrifices made by their surviving families and all veterans who have served in these conflicts, will be remembered and honored Aug. 18 in Renville County.

The Tim Orth Memorial Foundation is organizing a statewide event to remember the state's fallen heroes and further the work of those helping all veterans and their families.

The foundation is best known for its work to help children facing catastrophic illnesses. Taking on its most ambitious project ever on behalf of veterans is a role that only feels right, according to Val Serbus, a foundation board member.

"In our rural area there is probably no one who has not been touched by an ill child or a soldier on a deployment,'' she said. "So it seemed like an obvious connection.''

What will soon become obvious is just how big an event the foundation hopes to launch as "Let's Ride...Minnesota."

Tim Orth Memorial Foundation organizer Bill Neubauer said the goal is to host motorcycle rides throughout the state of Minnesota on Aug. 18. They will culminate with a ride to the Renville County fairgrounds in Bird Island.

There, Neubauer said they hope to gather the parents and loved ones of many of those fallen Minnesota heroes, as well as Tim Orth Foundation recipient families. The families will be honored in a patriotic ceremony.

The day will also feature family activities on the fairgrounds, booths on services to veterans and their families, and an evening of celebration. The Minnesota-based country music band Canyon Cowboy and a California based, all-female AC/DC tribute band ThundHerStruck will perform.

The event will follow a statewide sale of raffle tickets beginning in April to raise funds on behalf of veteran organizations and the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation and its work for children. Prizes including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle will be awarded.

Serbus said the children helped by the foundation and the veterans who have served in war share one reality. "The truth is pain is pain,'' said Serbus. "I see the children as being like wounded warriors. They may be fighting a different battle, but they still have been to the fight. When the cast comes off or the hair grows over, they still need to deal with that every day, just like the veterans.''

To learn more about what's being planned or to help out, check out the website: http://letsridemn.wordpress.com/

Funds will benefit these organizations:

Funds raises through the Let's Ride ... Minnesota event will be donated to four groups, according to 'Bert Wasierski of the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation.

The groups are as follows:

n The Minnesota Department of Disabled American Veterans. It provides a range of services to disabled veterans, in particular transportation services.

n The Fisher houses in Minnesota. They provide affordable housing for the families of veterans receiving medical care.

n The Minnesota Appreciation Fund. It provides scholarships to the children of veterans and financial help to their families. It assists in providing funds when active duty personnel must make emergency trips home.

n Tim Orth Memorial Foundation. It helps area families who have children battling major illnesses with the financial challenges they encounter. Last year the foundation helped 17 families in the region, and the number of families seeking help only grows, said the organizers.

OLIVIA -- A dozen young men who have called west central Minnesota home during their youths have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They are among 68 Minnesotans who made the supreme sacrifice in Iraq and 26 who have done so to date in Afghanistan, according to Fallen Heroes, which honors their memories.

Their ultimate sacrifice, and the ongoing sacrifices made by their surviving families and all veterans who have served in these conflicts, will be remembered and honored Aug. 18 in Renville County.

The Tim Orth Memorial Foundation is organizing a statewide event to remember the state's fallen heroes and further the work of those helping all veterans and their families.

The foundation is best known for its work to help children facing catastrophic illnesses. Taking on its most ambitious project ever on behalf of veterans is a role that only feels right, according to Val Serbus, a foundation board member.

"In our rural area there is probably no one who has not been touched by an ill child or a soldier on a deployment,'' she said. "So it seemed like an obvious connection.''

What will soon become obvious is just how big an event the foundation hopes to launch as "Let's Ride...Minnesota."

Tim Orth Memorial Foundation organizer Bill Neubauer said the goal is to host motorcycle rides throughout the state of Minnesota on Aug. 18. They will culminate with a ride to the Renville County fairgrounds in Bird Island.

There, Neubauer said they hope to gather the parents and loved ones of many of those fallen Minnesota heroes, as well as Tim Orth Foundation recipient families. The families will be honored in a patriotic ceremony.

The day will also feature family activities on the fairgrounds, booths on services to veterans and their families, and an evening of celebration. The Minnesota-based country music band Canyon Cowboy and a California based, all-female AC/DC tribute band ThundHerStruck will perform.

The event will follow a statewide sale of raffle tickets beginning in April to raise funds on behalf of veteran organizations and the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation and its work for children. Prizes including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle will be awarded.

Serbus said the children helped by the foundation and the veterans who have served in war share one reality. "The truth is pain is pain,'' said Serbus. "I see the children as being like wounded warriors. They may be fighting a different battle, but they still have been to the fight. When the cast comes off or the hair grows over, they still need to deal with that every day, just like the veterans.''

To learn more about what's being planned or to help out, check out the website: http://letsridemn.wordpress.com/

Funds will benefit these organizations:

Funds raises through the Let's Ride ... Minnesota event will be donated to four groups, according to 'Bert Wasierski of the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation.

The groups are as follows:

- The Minnesota Department of Disabled American Veterans. It provides a range of services to disabled veterans, in particular transportation services.

- The Fisher houses in Minnesota. They provide affordable housing for the families of veterans receiving medical care.

- The Minnesota Appreciation Fund. It provides scholarships to the children of veterans and financial help to their families. It assists in providing funds when active duty personnel must make emergency trips home.

- Tim Orth Memorial Foundation. It helps area families who have children battling major illnesses with the financial challenges they encounter. Last year the foundation helped 17 families in the region, and the number of families seeking help only grows, said the organizers.

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Tom Cherveny
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
(320) 214-4335
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