During this time of year most high school seniors are busy gearing up for college, but one West Salem senior is spending his last few months of high school helping wounded veterans.
Chad Seitz has been part of a military community his whole life and when it came to his senior project, he couldn’t think of a better way to thank all of those who have served our country than to organize a little fun for the vets who need it the most.
Dennis Hendrickson has served five years in the Marine Corps and 17 years in the Army. In 2004, he was hurt in Iraq and received a Purple Heart for his courage and strength.
“I was involved in a firefight. They shot an RPG round at us, and the impact threw me into a ditch and broke my neck,” said Hendrickson.
Doctors had to completely reconstruct Dennis’ neck and shoulders.
“I had to learn how to walk a couple times, it will be pretty much forever,” said Hendrickson.
However on Saturday all of his worries disappeared, thanks to an event organized by a high school senior at West Salem. For a senior project Seitz organized the Wounded Warrior Winter Adventure to pay tribute to those who have sacrificed so much for our country.
“It kind of started as an idea to help wounded soldiers,” said Seitz. “I kind of want to try and start something that can continue in this community because we need to appreciate what these veterans have done for our country. We need to make sure they feel appreciated for what they have done and what they’ve sacrificed.”
When Seitz reached out for help from Jeff Uhlig, chief of recreation at Fort McCoy, he was taken by surprise by his youth and eagerness to give back.
“For a young man Chad’s age, a high school student wanting to take on a program and a project like this to help disabled veterans, I was astonished,” said Uhlig. “It seems like younger kids don’t have that much of an interest, but I’ve been proven wrong.”
One volunteer at the event said it’s the American way.
“It’s part of our culture here in our country. It’s why we are Americans. We help each other out. All it takes is one person to ask, to want to do something and people gravitate towards that,” said Dennis Beattie, who is in the Marine Corps.
Many hope others will follow in Seitz’s footsteps to honor those who have dedicated their entire life to defending our country.
“I want them to feel appreciated and I hope that is what succeeds out of this project,” said Seitz.
Beattie said that the giving spirit is part of our culture and that's something you can see in all the work that went into this event. Organizations from across the state reached out to help with donated equipment and supplies.
The event took place at White-tail Ridge Ski Area in Fort McCoy. The ski and tubing hills are open to the public all winter. Click here for ski rentals and hours of operation.