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The Highground’s ‘Friends’ recognized at annual dinner

Donors were invited and honored at The Highground’s “Friends of The Highground” recognition dinner that was held on March 14 at the American Legion Post 73 in Neillsville.

This annual dinner is held as a way to say thank you to those generous donors who support The Highground Veterans Memorial Park and programs through cumulative annual donations that exceed $1,000. The Remember Our Fallen display and a 2020 event calendar were set up for attendees to see what will be happening at The Highground.

Kay Anason, donation coordinator, introduced The Highground’s new Executive Director Chris Pettis, who spoke about his background and future plans. Ron “Bull Dog” Perry then explained the meaning behind the “Missing Man Table.” Mark and Lori Dawson read a selection of Wisconsin Fallen names from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan through the present day. That was followed by an invocation given by Skip Klabon of Colby. Many board members were there to thank the donors as each person was presented with a beautiful plaque depicting the rededicated Gold Star. This is the 16th year The Highground has presented plaques to those who have met the $1,000 minimum donation.

This year, donors and board members from all around Wisconsin and Illinois were able to attend the dinner. Only three have acquired all plaques. They have contributed every year since the recognition was introduced. The Highground is exceedingly grateful to Central WI Broadcasting, Donald Quicker, and Dr. John and Rebecca Scaletta for their steadfast support.

A special “Spirit of the Highground” award, chosen by the staff, is presented to someone who the staff feels has gone above and beyond and who also has the “Spirit” of The Highground in them. This year, the award was humbly accepted by John Myers of Eau Claire and Robert Barth of Neillsville. Although there are many people who embody the spirit of The Highground, the staff wanted to keep with the gravity of the Gold Star Tribute rework and the dedication of these gentlemen to ensure the Gold Star was completed in time to make Aug. 24, 2019, a very special night for everyone.

Gary Weirauch, Board of Director vice chair, also offered a heartfelt thank you to Jim Fox along with a plaque for his years of dedication to The Highground Board of Directors. Jim became a board member in 2006, and has spent many hours supporting efforts and sharing his expertise. Jim and his wife Susan also spend endless hours making the Vietnam colored keychains that are given to every Vietnam Veteran who visits the park.