SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A longtime rival of the Sioux Falls Stampede is helping local veterans travel to the nation’s capital.
Midwest Honor Flight is currently grounded due to COVID-19.
“To say that we’re eager to fly is an understatement,” Midwest Honor Flight President Aaron Van Beek said.
Travel is on hold until at least August 15th, but isn’t stopping fundraising efforts.
“We’ve been doing jersey auctions, I’ve been with the team for 18 years, and we’ve never raised this kind of money in one auction,” Sioux City Musketeers President Rich Zaber said.
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The Sioux City Musketeers hosted Military Appreciation Night on Saturday. The team auctioned off 28 jerseys to benefit Midwest Honor Flight.
“Chase Bradley’s jersey went for $3,700,” Zaber said.
The auction raised nearly $55,000.
“This donation will support, fully, 72 veterans to fly on that Mission 9 when we get to that point,” Van Beek said.
This August marks nearly two years since veterans have traveled to Washington D.C. through Midwest Honor Flight. More than 800 veterans are currently on the waiting list.
“Unfortunately we have lost some of those that have been on our waiting list already at this point in that 22 months of time they have not lived long enough to go experience their memorials which is disappointing as well,” Van Beek said.
Once travel resumes, vaccines will be required.
“That doesn’t mean that it’s going to be required forever, it’s just for those that are willing and able to travel and are comfortable traveling and have had that process completed,” Van Beek said.
And the Muskies are thrilled to have played a part in the process.
“We’re really excited to help Midwest Honor Flight and get those veterans there,” Zaber said.
Midwest Honor Flight allows World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans from northwest Iowa, South Dakota, and southwest Minnesota to visit their respective memorials in Washington D.C.