LANSING, Ill. (June 27, 2023) – Lansing Mayor Patty Eidam and her husband Bud presented Honor Flight Chicago with a check for $32,515 on Tuesday, money the pair raised through a gala-style event at the Ford Hangar.
Doug Meffley, Director of Honor Flight Chicago, came to the Lansing Municipal Center on Tuesday, June 27, to accept the check.
The fundraising event, which took place on Saturday, June 17 at the Ford Hangar, made use of the historic space by accommodating 200 people, each of whom was treated to a cocktail hour, dinner, music, a silent auction, military formalities, and a dance floor.
Eidam credited her husband Bud with the idea of organizing an event to mark her 75th birthday, as well as the couple’s 40th wedding anniversary.
“It was Bud that kept going back to Honor Flight Chicago and the possibility of having something larger, perhaps at my favorite Lansing building, the Historic Ford Hangar,” Eidam said.
Eidam is an Army veteran and was an Honor Flight honoree in 2021.
Working with Village administration, Honor Flight Chicago, caterer J.J. Kelley’s, and other volunteers, the Eidams organized the fundraiser, and hosted “family, close friends, and associates that have become like family over the past few years” at the event, which included military formalities performed by the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard. The event also included music from Band of Brothers Pipe & Drum as well as Wolffgang, a vocal music group from Hobart High School.
Meffley said that while donations from Honor Flight “alumni” like Eidam are common, they don’t often come through elaborate events like the one thrown by the Eidams.
“This was an uncommon event. It was fantastically put together and executed,” Meffley said. “The connection with the historic hangar, and the connection with aviation and us flying senior veterans — many of whom were aviators themselves — it was a natural tie-in that we were very excited to participate in.”
The $32,515 raised through the event will fully fund 25 veterans to participate in Honor Flight, Meffley said, including transportation, food, and other services provided during the day.
Honor Flight Chicago
Honor Flight Chicago is an organization formed in 2008 that honors American senior war veterans by flying them to Washington for a day to view the memorials created in their honor. The trip is all-expenses paid and includes tributes, memorials, and displays of gratitude along the way.
Eidam was one of three Lansing women honored in the all-women “Operation HerStory” flight in 2021.
“My all-female flight to Washington in October of 2021 was something that both Bud and I will never forget. Although Bud did not travel with me, he was the one that insisted I must go,” she said.
On every Honor Flight, each veteran is assigned a guardian for the day. Eidam’s guardian was Mary Pettinato, who Eidam later learned was the co-founder of Honor Flight Chicago. The Eidams worked with both Pettinato and Meffley to coordinate their fundraising event.
Honor Flight Chicago is currently honoring veterans who were on active duty during the periods of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
“We don’t care where you served or what your role was,” Meffley said. “Because of the way we define those eras, anyone who served between 1941 and 1975 — with just a few months here and there that aren’t a part of that — are eligible to fly.”
Applications for veterans, volunteers, and guardians are available online at honorflightchicago.org.
Honor Flight Chicago is funded entirely by donors, and Meffley said the more donations the organization receives, the faster it will be able to work through its waiting list of 2,500 veterans wishing to make the trip to Washington.
Donations can be made through the Honor Flight Chicago website.
When asked if they would be repeating the event in the future, Eidam said, “Unfortunately, for Bud and me this was a ‘one-time’ celebration. Of course we would be open to helping someone else with such an endeavor. Events such as this one are what I have hoped to see in the Ford Hangar for many years.”
- Post 697 welcomes Phil Stewart home from Honor Flight (June 16, 2023)
- Angel and Betsy Lopez first to marry in Ford Hangar – photos (November 21, 2022)
- Video: Veteran Valorie Harris and Operation HerStory (November 5, 2021)