MILWAUKEE -- An Honor Flight is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for veterans, and it allows them to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C. -- at no cost. The program relies on generous donors, and a fundraiser was held Sunday, July 30th to raise money for the life-changing Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program.
On Sunday morning, a 5K kicked off at the South Shore Yacht Club. While the race itself was the reward for those who signed up, for many, the real treat was the opportunity to help veterans take the trip of a lifetime.
"It's important for the veterans to go on an Honor Flight, to come home and to know how much their duty was appreciated, to know that we appreciate what they've done for our country and our families," Jill Bierbach said.
Bierbach's father was a veteran who died having never taken an Honor Flight trip. She said she and her family have made it their mission to ensure others don't miss the opportunity.
"When you go to one of those homecomings, when you see those veterans coming through the parade, it's so emotional," Bierbach said.
The mantra for the event could be found on the runners' T-shirts: "We run, they fly." Simply put, the only way veterans are able to take this trip is because volunteers and donors make it possible.
"We are 100 percent funded on donations and volunteers. We have no paid staff. We have no office. No overhead," Amy Luft with the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program said.
It costs roughly $500 for an Honor Flight. During Sunday's 5K Run/Walk, more than $10,000 was raised.
"It's not a high-budget race. These people are here because they care deeply about something that has affected them," Jeff Winkowski said.
While some ran, others walked.
Bierbach and her team donated more than $600 for a veteran's Honor Flight, honoring her father's memory.
"It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like we're doing our little part to help these men and women know how much we appreciate them and what they've done for us," Bierbach said.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program.