What can we say about a community that goes to a spaghetti supper and leaves $6,106 on the table? We can all be proud of this community and our collective efforts to welcome a new neighbor -- a neighbor who paid an extreme price for our freedom.
VFW Post 7400 Ladies' Auxiliary President Pam Van Winkle and Brandi Fuller from Brandi's Kitchen in Cottonwood put their heads together to help Homes for Our Troops fundraise to build a home for Marine Sgt. Jordan Maynard and his family. Van Winkle only had to ask once, and Brandi and husband Jason Fuller were on board 100 percent, no questions asked.
Homes for Our Troops is building a home in the Verde Valley for Sgt. Jordan Maynard, wife Jennifer, and son Jay. It is a home that will provide Sgt. Maynard with the accessibility he needs to accommodate the injuries he suffered after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan two years ago. He lost both of his legs above the knees. An elbow was severely injured in the blast. He suffered serious internal injuries. After the IED exploded, Sgt. Maynard, a Squad Leader on foot patrol, gave lifesaving instructions to his teammates. After applying the tourniquets they were unable to start an IV, so he simply asked them for a bottle of water. He was conscious through it all until the helicopter arrived, at which time he was sedated. During the medical evacuation, Sgt. Maynard went into cardiac arrest numerous times. The medical crew performed a resuscitative thoracotomy -- the manual pumping of his heart by hand -- to keep him alive.
Since that time he has endured countless surgeries and spent thousands of hours in therapy and rehabilitation. He's worked hard to get where he is today.
One of Sgt. Maynard's biggest challenges now is not having an accessible home. Jennifer says there is always a need for a glass of water, or a bowl, or something else that is too high for him to reach. When Homes for Our Troops finishes this house, it will be on a level lot with pull down cabinets and a five feet turning radius where necessary for wheelchair accommodation.
There are many heroes in this spaghetti supper scenario. Of course there is Sgt. Jordan Maynard who sacrificed greatly for our nation and each of us, and a very giving community that wants our new neighbors-the Maynard family - to feel right at home here in the Verde Valley. Then there's Pam Van Winkle who simply said "yes" when asked if she would help with a fundraiser. Brandi's crew included Kelly Ruiz, Melissa Ross, Richard Walker, George Brewer and Donnie Duran. The wait staff volunteered their time and donated all their tips to the cause. Volunteers included Tiny Norvell, John Maddox, Moose Governor Mike Liggett and wife Cathy. Jeri Strande, Ken and Pat Johnson, Lona White, Dee Norvell, Viann Davis, Jack and Peggy Graham, and Alta Bruce helped. There were many ladies who baked cakes-about 20 of them. Other volunteers included Shirley Whitacre and June Thompson. The youth group included Alexander, Chance, Zane Scott, Sumer Scott, Carter Scott and Canaan Doering. Others who helped were Jeff Christian of Food City, Gary Sangiovanni and Connie Dedrick of the Boys & Girls Club. Verde Valley Fire Chief Nazih Hazime threw on an apron and waited tables. Volunteers from VFW 7400 Ladies Auxiliary, Verde Valley Moose Lodge 1449, American Legion Post 135 as well help from Food City and Larry Wascek helped to make the event a success. Of course when you start naming volunteers, you always unintentionally forget to list someone, so thanks to everyone who helped. All are appreciated.
Sgt. Maynard said one of his biggest worries has been where his family will live. Homes for Our Troops is stepping up to the plate to provide a home which will ensure security for the family - especially financial security. It is a big burden off Sgt. Maynard's mind.
The fundraising planning team met last week to discuss the next steps. They're planning a booth at Thunder Valley Rally with the help of Richard Faust. Brenda Strom of Cottonwood is seeking artists to provide work for a raffle. For Rhythm and Ribs, a website has been set up to collect funds specifically for the Rhythm and Ribs event at https://thateventcompany.webconnex.com/sgtmaynard. John Maddox of Rimrock is working on a wine tasting event with Kathy Chambers at Vintages Grille in Rimrock for Sgt. Maynard. The event will be held on Oct. 19. Lenny Bloch is working on behalf of Quince Grill and Cantina for an outdoor auction to fundraise for this cause. Karla Bohner is currently thinking of a fundraising activity, as is Debbie Cohorshak. National Bank of Arizona featured Sgt. Maynard and Homes for Our Troops as their Business of the Week the first week in August. Donations may always be made directly to Homes for Our Troops at www.hfotusa.org/maynard.
With a spectacular spaghetti supper at Brandi's Kitchen in Cottonwood, our community embraced the challenge to help Homes for Our Troops build a home for Sgt. Maynard, and in doing so, well exceeded our own expectations. The Verde Valley is an amazing place to live, work and play. Community members are always ready to support their neighbors. Welcome home Sgt. Maynard, Jennifer and Jay.
Diane Joens is the mayor of Cottonwood.