Where did the 2012 Canoe go? Yes, the drawing happened on schedule last September at the Black Dog Café in St. Paul and the happy winner came and picked up the canoe that week. What didn’t happen was the news story about it. It was a case of “I thought you were going to write the story.” “No, I thought you were going to write it.” Jim Gellerman, the winner of the canoe, also happens to be a veteran and resident of Wisconsin. He came and picked up the canoe and expressed enthusiastic agreement with our goals as Veterans for Peace. (text and photo by John Sherman)
After being informed last September that I was the grand prize winner in the annual VFP Chapter 27 Canoe Raffle, I immediately decided the canoe needed a more deserving recipient. It did not take long to think of the recently injured Lt Jason Church from Menomonie WI. Lt Church's vehicle hit an IED in Afghanistan which resulted in Church losing his legs below the knee. During an annual Veteran's Day memorial concert held here in Menomonie, I with members of other service organizations were able to recognize the Church family with much needed donations for what must be extremely high unexpected expenses. It was my "HONOR and PRIVILEGE" to inform Jason's father his son was the new owner of a brand new 18 foot cedar strip canoe
The canoe is being stored in my garage in Menomonie, WI for as long as needed. It awaits delivery to the now 1st Lt Jason Church, pictured here at Walter Reed Hospital. No one who knows Church will be surprised if he gets the boat wet as early as this summer. This is a tough guy.
A Multiple sport student-athlete at Menomonie High school, he went on to play football at UW La Crosse After receiving his degree and commission he was deployed to Afghanistan. He endured his injuries in August 2012 about a month before the VFP drawing for the canoe.
Jason's future plans likely include attending graduate school. His younger brother attends UW River Falls and is taking part in ROTC.
Col. David Church, his father, has been deployed several times. During halftime of the final game of the 2012 football season for UW LaCrosse his father Col Church pinned the purple heart on the chest of Jason.
It is hoped we can send the VFP News, a photo of the boat's maiden voyage later this summer, before the next drawing for the 2013 canoe.