Destination DC: Another trip planned for area vets
To learn more
More information about the VetsRoll program is available on the organization's website, vetsroll.org.
Applications for veterans who want to go on the trip will be available about Dec. 1.
Donations can be made any time on the website or mailed to VetsRoll, 1777 Gardner St., South Beloit, IL, 61080. People can contact Mark Finnegan at (608) 207-8319 or at email@example.com.
BELOIT An emotional journey of taking more than 100 World War II veterans to see their memorial in the nation's capital is one that the Finnegan family can't wait to do again.
The Beloit family announced Thursday they are planning to raise funds to take 200 more area veterans on a four-day luxury charter bus trip to Washington, D.C., in May.
"It's just something, once you experience it, it gets inside your head and your heart, and you've got to do more," Mark Finnegan said. "They're getting older. (We) just want to do it before it's too late."
He and his family this year ignited a local movement called VetsRoll to allow World War II veterans from the state line area to see their memorial and other war memorials in Washington, D.C.
The family, which owns Finnegans' RV Center in South Beloit, Ill., in May transported 125 veterans on three coach buses and nine motor homes over four days.
VetsRoll 2 is planned for May 16-19. This time, they'll take 200 veterans and 100 assistants, all on buses.
Honorably discharged Korean War veterans who served through the end of 1958 also will be included on this trip. The Finnegans plan to take up to 150 World War II veterans and women who worked in war production plus 50 Korean War veterans.
The trip is free for veterans, and organizers are planning to raise $166,000.
"We're confident we can do it," Finnegan said. "We raised better than half of that for the first trip in 60 days. Now we have six months."
VetsRoll now is registered as a nonprofit organization, so donations are tax deductible. The action is retroactive to January, so donors can write off donations made to the previous trip, Finnegan said.
The trip is back by popular demand, and the family doesn't expect any problems filling the buses.
"People just want us to do it again," he said. "We were hesitant about it because of the economic situation, (but) we just decided we're going to go ahead and go for it."
The trip will be very similar to this year's trip, which included stops at the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania, the Korean War and Vietnam War memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial. The group will receive a police escort from Pennsylvania back to Wisconsin and a welcome home ceremony.
VetsRoll will be looking for assistants, preferably people with military or medical backgrounds, to travel with the group. Those volunteers will travel at their own expense, estimated at $450.