Run to benefit burglarized VFW post
DANVILLE — In the last few weeks, community donations have been trickling in to the VFW Post 728 to make up for money stolen in a burglary that threatened the future of the already-struggling veterans organization.
"We were just barely making it by to begin with," said Kara Fletcher, a member of the VFW auxiliary and the daughter of post commander Phil Fletcher.
Kara Fletcher said the theft, which happened some time on July 6 or 7 at 8 Pine St. in downtown Danville, wiped out the organization's cash on hand, an amount that's not being disclosed while police investigate the case. Fletcher said the VFW — which has a bar and video-gaming machines and holds regular chicken noodle dinners and all-you-can-eat breakfasts — had just hosted a Sunday bingo event on July 6 and was closed the next day.
The burglary was discovered the morning of July 8, she said.
Fletcher has been spearheading some fund-raising efforts since then.
"So when this all took place, I knew if we weren't proactive we wouldn't stay open," she said.
Fletcher set up an online fund-raising page at gofundme.com, which has raised more than $2,800, mostly from local community members. Then, members of Vermilion County Fun Run Inc., which hosts summer runs for youth at Winter Park, announced they'll hold a 5K run on Aug. 9, with all proceeds going to the VFW.
Fletcher said the goal for all efforts is to raise $8,000 for the post, and any donations above that would be passed on to the VFW's regular charities, which benefit the homeless, the VA and military families, among others.
Fletcher said helping charities is why the post is there. "We've got to keep the barn open, because that's what brings in revenue to do the charity work," she said.
Pat Bogen, chief running officer with Vermilion County Fun Run, said he was sad to hear that anyone would steal from veterans, and his group was more than willing to organize the charity event to help.
The cross country 5K run/walk is open to all ages. It will start at 10 a.m. Aug. 9 at Winter Park, and the VFW will host a lunch, with complimentary sandwiches, after the race at its post on Pine Street. The minimum donation to participate in the race/walk is $15 for adults and $10 for kids. Register at vermilioncountyfunrun.org.