Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Our 2nd Annual “A HERO WAS HERE” Fundraiser Diary

July 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Events, Photos

Well, we officially ended our 2nd Annual “A Hero Was Here” Sgt. John “Kyle” Daggett Foundation Fundraiser on July 4th, 2010 @ approximately 8:00 PM.

The fundraiser ran from June 27th thru July 4th, with the sale of fireworks to support our Wounded Warriors. It was one of the most awesome experiences I could have experienced.

Day 1: Sunday, June 27, Set-up day.

Day one is probably the most grueling of the week, with the delivery of fireworks…151 cases in all!

First the cases need to be sorted and separated into categories, then; each case is inventoried, set up on display tables and priced. This year we had some idea of what we were doing, so set-up took about half as long as lastyear. Everything seemed to be going well!

As we worked on the inside, Uncle Tracy and a few others worked to get the outside ready to attract people to our stand and our cause…they worked hard setting up a special display from the students from Milwaukie High school who have worked over 7 years to complete the display. The display was donated for us to use by our new friend Ken Buckles, and one of the former students from Milwaukie High named Carl. Ken works with High School students to teach them about American Heroes and what patriotism is all about.

Students from the school collected soda pop-top tabs, each representing an American Hero who died fighting for our Freedoms, from the Revolutionary War to the Current Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. The display is called “The High Cost of Freedom”. It gave a breath-taking visual of the number of lives that have been lost so that we may enjoy the freedoms we so freely avail ourselves. It was almost numbing…I walked many customers down the display; I don’t think there was one that had a dry eye by the time they reached the end. I know I didn’t as I walked through, especially as I walked past the WWII, Viet Nam and Iraq sections. Iraq was a tough one as my son Sgt. John “Kyle” Daggett was represented by one of those pop-top tabs.

Just as we were wrapping up the pricing of the fireworks inside the tent a huge micro burst of wind came through and caused our tent to blow out of plumb by nearly 9 – 10” making it somewhat dangerous to be inside. We continued to price the items but the wind kept blowing causing us to have to open the walls of the tent so the wind could blow through and not continue to push the tent further out of plumb. This caused the wind to blow much of our display onto the ground causing some concern and a little stress. We eventually parked Uncle Tracy’s (work) box truck on one side of the tent against one of the tent poles to stabilize it and Uncle Keith’s truck with tie wires on the opposite side to keep it taunt. Eventually the tent company made it on site and did a temporary fix with sand bags to weight each corner and pole down. We were tired and it was getting dark so we called it a night and began to pray!

Day 2: Monday, June 28, Opening Day.

The tent made it through the night, our prayers were answered. We began the cleanup of the tent, getting product back on the display tables and doing final touches of clean up and decorating. We were a little anxious that we would not be done in time for the Fire Marshall to arrive for our inspection so that we could receive our permit and officially open. The tent company arrived in time to get the tent in proper order before our inspection, they pulled the tent back into plumb tied down all the poles and we were back in business. We actually ended up waiting on the Fire Marshall to arrive. When he finally arrived we were given the OK and officially opened for business at 12:00PM.

We had a slow trickle of customers the first day, which is expected as fireworks restrictions did not allow for fireworks to be set off until July 3rd. It was a great feeling to be opened and see the customers begin to come by. We closed about 9:30PM.

Day 3: Tuesday, June 29

Today for me was the highlight of the week; I was honored to meet an American Hero named Kevin Pannell. Kevin was one our Heroes from last year (our 1st Annual fundraiser) that we were helping by donating to Homes For Our Troops. Kevin will be a recipient of a home built specific to his handicap. Kevin had become part of our Washington family over the past year, and I could hardly wait to meet him. He worked with us at the stand most everyday so we were able to hug, laugh, and get to know each other over the course of the week. He will forever be special to my heart.

We were a little busier today with more customers and sales … still a little slow (but expected).

Day 4: Wednesday, June 30

Today more and more customers began to trickle in, it’s getting exciting! We had our biggest sale of the week today…Thank you Greg Knutson (Uncle Tracy’s boss) for supporting our efforts the past couple years, and supporting us during our tragedy of losing Kyle in 2008.

Today I met Danielle Pannell, Kevin’s wife; she is truly an amazing woman. It was such an honor to meet both of them.

As the day rolled on the clouds began to roll in, we had rain by late afternoon. Us Arizonians know that when it rains it pours … but we were calmed by rumors that in Washington when it rains it is only a “mist” type of rain. Well, I’m not sure who has the definition of “mist” incorrect but that “mist” was more like buckets of rain.

We had a few small leaks in the tent where; we moved fireworks to safe places away from the drips and leaks and continued on.

The rain did not seem to keep too many people away as business was picking up hour by hour. We closed with it still raining, and the forecast for the next day as partly cloudy.

Day 5: Thursday, July 1

We woke up to partly cloudy skies, but as the morning went on the clouds quickly moved in, bringing more of the “mist” … LOL. It rained most of the day but it did not discourage customers from continuing to make their way to our tent. With water draining through our tent (only small streams), we and the customers sloshed our way through the day.

We placed our first order – it was a great feeling knowing we already needed to restock. The only problem was, it was delivered after we closed and had gone home, leaving our security team the responsibility of receiving the order. They did a great job, placing everything on pallets keeping it safe from the rain. Yeah, security team!!

Day 6: Friday, July 2, Cara & Scott’s Birthday.

We began to see business really pick up – people gearing up for the weekend. We were getting busy! Time for another order! Busiest day so far!!!

We gave the young adult helpers the evening off so they could begin the birthday party celebration for 2 of Kyle’s cousins, Scott who turned 39 (yikes), and Cara (one of Kyle’s best buds), who turned 23! The “older” adults stayed to close, about 11:00 PM, getting us to the party just in time to sing Happy Birthday and enjoy some time with everyone. It was a great day knew that tomorrow would bring quite a busy day for most of us, as that would be our “big event” day.

Day 7: July 3, Bike Ride-In.

Today we had our bike ride in…LOL, Paul and I escaped the day of madness!

The day started out quite busy at the stand. Several of us, including Kevin, and our Dad who is 87 years old and a WWII Navy Veteran, gathered at the Transit Center to participate in the “Bike Ride-In”. Dad rode in a sidecar for the 2nd year in a row.

We took a beautiful ride through Camas and Washougal and looped around on Salmon Falls Rd., Canyon Creek Rd., and Washougal River Rd. The ride lasted about an hour and a half ending at A Hero Was Here Fireworks Stand – with dozens of patriots lining Andresen Road with American flags to welcome the bikers in. As the riders rolled in, KUPL radio (which was on site) played; I’m Proud To Be An American, by Lee Greenwood. This was one of Kyle’s favorite songs when he was a little boy. It was all great!

Meanwhile at the stand … it was an absolute awesomely busy day. Besides KUPL, we had a WWII tank, and a Hummer that was painted in honor of Lance Cpl. John M. Holmason, who died December 2005 along with nine other Marines in Fallujah, Iraq. Thank you, Karla Comfort for allowing Ken, the honor of driving such a beautiful tribute to your son and his comrades in our event. It was our honor to have your beautiful hummer lead us in the Bike Ride-In.

Everyone worked hard that day, (with the exception of Paul and I) as we left again to take a bike ride with Gold Star Mom Sharon and Don Hauerken parents of Specialist Elijah John Miles Rao, killed December 5, 2009. They led us on a great ride up to Hood River. We’re glad we took the time to get away and get to know Sharon and Don better.

The stand was so busy three more orders were called in. Two arrived in time to be inventoried and stocked while we were still there. The third arrived after closing – so again thank you to our security team for receiving the order.

Day 8: July 4, Our final day.

First thing this morning was to get our last and final order inventoried and stocked. It was another extremely busy day, just like yesterday. We couldn’t keep product on the shelves; God was truly blessing us.

It also was kind of a sad day for me, this truly awesome experience would be ending today.

It is our hearts desire to “Serve Those Who Sacrificed Serving Us”. Our hearts are to support our military men and women and their families, specifically our wounded Heroes. We know that had Kyle survived we would have needed outside help to care for his daily needs. We would have had to seek the help of organizations such as Fisher House, Wounded Warrior Project, Homes for our Troops and others. We are thankful that there are organizations present such as these.

Today was an awesome day. Between yesterday and today, we knew we had surpassed last year’s net proceeds of $15,000. (+), which were donated to Homes For Our Troops.

After we packed up, took inventory and loaded everything up, we headed back to Uncle Tracy’s for an extremely AWESOME fireworks show put on by the pyro’s of the group – which included a grand finale by RJ and others. The finale was spectacular … now we truly know we have pyro’s living among us.

During the week Uncle Rich kept all of us fed, he was even offered a few cooking jobs during his stay. Chef Rich had help from the “Senator” (so to speak), that’s what he called Dad. I liked to think of them as Chef and Chef Boyardee!! We were spoiled, as everyone awoke to the smell of fresh brewed coffee, with a hot cooked breakfast to follow. Each evening was highlighted with one of Chef Rich’s fabulous dinners. Much of the time he packed up his cookin’ and brought it down to the stand for us to eat. Each night we seemed to add an extra person or two to our dinners. I believe even once a customer got in line and took a plate! Wow, the word of the Chef’s cookin’ must have gotten out.

This week has brought many new friends and rekindled friendships from last year. God took away Kyle, but has brought very special people into our lives. We hope these friendships last our life time. Thank you from deep within my heart for your help, support, and love. May God Bless each and everyone who helped make this fundraiser for our Heroes a true success.

As deep as my heart grieves, by your friendships I know I am truly Blessed.

Colleen Czaplicki
Proud Mom of Sgt. John “Kyle” Daggett, Ranger
09/30/86 – 05/15/08
Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq
Operation Iraq Freedom

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