In the year since the City of Soldotna gave permission and poured the foundation for a memorial statue known as “Iron Mike” to honor all veterans, fund raising has been going on headed up VFW Post # 10046.
Earlier this year a third grade Kalifornsky Beach Elementary student in the class of Bill Vedders heard about the project and decided to help.
“One day when I was playing with a friend, Mr. Walters invited me in to his house saying he had something to show me and he showed me the replica of the Iron Mike statue and told me what was going on and that someday a big one was going to be at Soldotna Creek Park. So before we left the driveway I asked my mom if I could help with the project because I wanted to do something nice for veterans and she said ‘yes’,” Haedyn told the Dispatch in an interview after being honored by officers of VFW Post # 10046.
At the ceremony to honor Haedyn he presented an ammo box that he used in his fund raising that contained $1,646 dollars for the Iron Mike statue.
“My mom’s friend does fund raising with a 31-gift catalog so I first went to my school and then to some of mom’s friends and neighbors and I also did a lemonade stand and so it just kept adding up and people kept giving me money,” he said.
“This is an amazing young man,” said VFW George Walters.
“When he came over to the house and saw the statue I told him a little bit about the project and the next thing I know they came back over a couple weeks later with an envelope full of money that he had raised on his own and it just blew us away. So the VFW wanted to honor him tonight,” said Walters.
Haedyn was presented with an official certificate of appreciation from the VFW along with several other items of VFW memorabilia and the replica of the Iron Mike statue itself.
“I couldn’t be more proud!” said Post Commander Anne Toutant. “It takes a little man to do a big man’s job and sometimes one small voice is louder than a crowd. So tonight we all stand behind this little man with the huge heart and say thank you,” said Toutant.
Dave Carey is heading up the Iron Mike fund raising effort for the VFW and says Haedyn’s contribution brings the total to date to over $19,000.
“Today was our biggest single day ever and puts us to the half way point of completing the project which we want to do as soon as possible,” said Carey.