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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Veterans, guardians selected for Prairie View's Honor Flight

Prairie View Honor Flight co-sponsor Tracy Konda, left, receives a donation check from Wendy Kinder during the halftime of the girls' basketball game on Feb. 2. Kinder and her sisters, from left, Carrie Sewell, Chrissy Byerley, and Sherry Schmitz, the daughters of the late Ralph Nickell, a Parker area U.S. Navy veteran, made the donation in his honor. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

Student “guardians” and military veterans have been chosen to take part in Prairie View High School’s Honor Flight program for 2024, according to Stephanie Nichols, school counselor and program co-sponsor.

Guardians are the students who are assigned to accompany veterans and assist them during the two-day trip to Washington, D.C. The guardians this year are Madison Johnson, Grace Johnson, Alaina Hamons, Kelly Petric, and Kimberlee Eastwood.

Kelly Petric, right, and Laura Covell work the Honor Flight bake sale during the PVHS home games on Friday, Feb. 2. Petric has been selected as a guardian for this year's Honor Flight along with Covell's daughter, Alaina Hamons.

For a second year the family of the late Ralph Nickell donated $2,000 to help cover expenses to send the five guardians, five veterans and two sponsors on the trip. The Nickell family, which presented a check to co-sponsor Tracy Konda during the halftime of the girls’ varsity game on Feb. 2, helped kick off donations to the program during its first year in 2023.

Members of the Nickell family raise the money from the Ralph Nickell Memorial Roping contest they sponsor every summer. According to Kinder, Nickell was very proud of his service in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Ticonderoga, an aircraft carrier that earned numerous commendations for its part in the Vietnam War.

Guardians were also busy at the home game selling baked goods and selling tickets for quilts that will be raffled off at the end of this month.

Guardian Kimberlee Eastwood and her mother Michelle Eastwood sell tickets for a quilt raffle during the Feb. 2 games.

Last year the cost for the Honor Flight was about $20,000, and that included plane tickets, meals, and lodging for the group. That cost is expected to increase this year.

However, Nichols said that the program had funds left over from last year, and they were doing fundraisers to help this year. As guardian Kelly Petric was selling cookies at the Feb. 2 basketball games, more than one customer made a donation in addition to $1 for the bag of cookies. The cookies sold out that night.

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