Colorado Gold Star Parents Honor Military Son With Walk Across Country [VIDEO, PICTURES]
Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Genie Mjelde at the Loveland Veterans Day parade. Genie is an AMF100 member and she was mentioning a couple who were going to walk across the country to honor their son at the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall in Marseilles, Illinois. This is truly an amazing story; the story of Dan and Michelle Benavidez!
...Here is Michelle's story...
As so many young men do, Kennith Mayne was making bad choices. At 18 years of age his parents, Dan & Michelle Benavidez, told Kenny they loved him & always would but it was time to make a decision. They told him to choose a branch of the military or he was going to have to move out of their house.
Dan & Michelle have thanked God every day that Kenny chose to to join the Army. They have said that the Army was the best thing that ever happened to Kenny. The Army made a leader out of a follower.
Kenny was a Staff Sergeant in the 166th of the 4th ID. On September 4th, 2008 Kenny's humvee drove over an IED & Kenny was killed instantly. Many of the young men Kenny worked with & mentored speak highly of the kind of leader that Kenny was.
Michelle & Dan have "adopted" several of the young men that served with Kenny & call them their boys. Their house is often filled with these young men who come to hang out & be loved by this amazing couple & their family. They call them their boys. Michelle & Dan became involved with American Military Family after the foundation reached out to them during the difficult days, weeks & months after Kenny's death. Their desire was to do the same for other military families.
Michelle has work tirelessly as a board member for AMF. Fundraising & bringing on new programs that reach out to the military, their families & veterans. Michelle also helps train casualty assistance officers for the military. Dan is active with AMF and also is involved with Fathers of the Fallen.
Beginning April 13th from Fort Carson Colorado, Dan and Michelle Benavidez will be making the 1080 mile "journey" on foot to the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall in Marseilles Illinois. Kenny's name is on the wall honoring fallen heroes. Their purpose in this journey is to raise awareness of the sacrifices of our military and their families and to raise funds for American Military Family's programs. Their journey will bring them up Hwy 287, arriving in Loveland on April 21st. There will be a rally at the Promenade Shops at Centerra on that day to honor our military and to welcome Dan and Michelle to Northern Colorado.
I will be there doing a live broadcast and the family has also requested the services of Journey 4 Justice members, Patriot Guard and others to act as bike escorts not only here in Colorado but also along their route in Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois along I-80. We have J4J members in all 4 states who have stepped up to help, many of them also Patriot Guard riders.
Look later this week or early next week for a follow up story with more exact details as I know many of you too will want to help honor our fallen hero's including Staff Sergeant Kennith Mayne on this special event.