As of Tuesday, November 19, 2013
WENATCHEE A 13-year-old who recently worked with American Legion Post 97 in Brewster to raise money for a veteran-focused charity is seeking to interview more local World War II veterans.
Justin Peterson has raised more than $65,000 for Inland Northwest Honor Flight, an organization that helps send veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit monuments honoring their service.
Peterson, whose family is moving to Wenatchee from Chewelah, accepted a donation of more than $800 from the Brewster Legion after a Sept. 14 poker run, breakfast and dinner fundraiser.
“INWHF is a great organization honoring our heroes with trips of a lifetime,” Peterson said. “I have been so honored to meet them and help them see how appreciated they are.”
He is hoping to hear more veterans’ stories and continue raising money through local fundraisers and his website, www.jp4vets.com.
The average cost to send one veteran on this trip is $900, and Honor Flight has sent more than 600 veterans to Washington, D.C. since the organization began in 2009.
Peterson became involved with Honor Flight four years ago when he interviewed 10 World War II veterans for a school project.
“My original goal was to raise $600, enough money to send one veteran to D.C.,” Peterson wrote in a letter he shared with The Chronicle. “Generous donations from all over helped me to raise $4,300 and send 15 veterans to D.C. on a deserving trip with donated Southwest Airlines plane tickets that year.”
Since then, the money he has raised has helped send 85 veterans to the nation’s capitol. His new goal is to raise $100,000 for Honor Flight before he graduates.
“Many have told me that it helped them heal and say goodbye to their fellow brothers and sisters who died so many years ago,” Peterson’s letter said. “These men and women saved the world. They fought for all of us. I can do what I do today because of them.
“It is so important that we all pitch in and help honor them before it is too late.”