By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — For this particular group of students in the Event Management class, picking an event to work on was the easy part.
Christy Wedoe serves coffee to veterans every day at her job at Caribou Coffee. Kelsey Thielmann has a handful of male friends who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Wess McConville, heck, he’s actually been to Iraq.
There’s no shortage of veteran connections with this group. So they chose to dedicate their group project to something that would benefit veterans. What they came up with is a family event called “A Day for Heroes.”
Taking place on Sunday, which is Veterans Day, the event encourages participants to visit all 14 veterans memorials and monuments in the Mankato and North Mankato area.
With each stop, people will get a ticket. At the end of the trail they can use those tickets to enter drawings for donated prizes. All money collected (registration is required — tickets are $8 in advance and $10 on the day of the event) will be donated to Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans.
For the students, planning this event has been a labor of love. And along the way, they’ve learned exactly what they’re supposed to be learning.
“We’ve had to do everything from the ground up,” Thielman said.
The students are hoping they can foster a coming together of young veterans and old.
“A lot of people think veterans are all old,” Wedoe said. “This will be a good way to get the old generation and the young generation together.”
They’re hoping to make this an annual event. And even if no one comes, they say, the experience has been worth it. They’ve been responsible for marketing, making contact with providers, figuring out food, planning the actual four-hour event and everything else.
So, even if no one comes ... “We still threw together an event in less than three months.”
But in this community, an event for veterans is unlikely to be unattended.
One thing the group hears repeatedly is that people didn’t know there were so many memorials and monuments for veterans.
This event will include new additions to the memorial family, such as Veterans Memorial Park at the foot of Veterans Bridge, and the Jacob Thompson Memorial Pier in North Mankato’s Spring Lake Park. And all the usual ones are included as well, such as the World War II Memorial in North Mankato’s Wheeler Park, and Blue Earth and Nicollet Counties Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial near Rasmussen Woods.