Troy family bringing veteran recognition program to local cemetery

TROY — Members of a Troy family are working to bring the Wreaths Across America program saluting veterans to the city’s Riverside Cemetery.

The project would be the second for the national program in Miami County. Efforts are underway with a goal to place around 3,000 wreaths on veterans’ graves at the cemetery.

Wreaths Across America started in 1992 based on a Maine man’s gift to honor fallen veterans. Over the years, it has grown to more than 3,100 cemeteries. The program involves donations and sponsorships of wreaths, which are placed on veterans’ graves by volunteers.

The local program will coincide with the Dec. 17 placement of wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. The program also is active at Dayton National Cemetery.

Co-coordinators for the Riverside Cemetery project are Tom Kendall and his granddaughter Maddie Maxson, a junior at Miami East High School. Tom’s daughter (Maddie’s mother Lisa Kendall Maxson) also is involved in the project in a sponsorship role.

The project will raise $5 for every $15 wreath sold to benefit the Be The Match organization.

The Minneapolis-based Be The Match Foundation has played a key role in the Kendall and Maxson families’ lives via its registry to connect blood cancer patients needing a bone marrow transplant. The registry includes people who have been swabbed to be a bone marrow donor.

Lisa Kendall Maxson underwent a stem cell transplant with help of the organization in 2011 after diagnosis with acute myeloid leukemia. The family has been involved with Be The Match in the years following.

Kendall said a local resident had started the Riverside Cemetery wreaths project but was unable to move forward with its introduction and implementation.

“I was talking to a guy who said he couldn’t do it now and they were hoping to find someone. I said we would take it on,” he said. “It is a good thing.”

They are finalizing materials to promote the project and will be taking with veterans’ organizations and making presentations this month to service clubs and others to raise funds needed. Maddie Maxson will be coordinating volunteers, including high school students.

More information on the local effort is available at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/OH0339P. More information on the broader Wreaths Across America program can be found at www.wreathacrossamerica.org or 877-385-9504.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.

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