ORO VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) A 9-year-old Oro Valley girl helped organize a fundraiser for Honor Flight Southern Arizona that brought in around $3,000.
Third grader Alexie Danna was hoping to raise enough money to send one veteran on an Honor Flight and she raised enough money to sponsor three.
Honor Flight is a program that gives veterans the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. for a few days and see their memorials for free.
Organizers in Southern Arizona say since 2011 they have flown 23 flights and taken more than 780 veterans to the nation's capitol. It has included World War II, Vietnam War, and Korean War veterans.
"It's pretty amazing," said Honor Flight volunteer Kathy Mansur. "She's so young to have a heart that's so giving. I think it speaks highly of her parents and we leave the future in good hands."
Two years ago Alexie was at a birthday party for a family friend when Congresswoman Martha McSally told the group about Honor Flight. Alexie's mother took her to the homecoming at the airport, and when Alexie found out it cost money for each veteran to go she wanted to chip in.
Initially Alexie asked her family members and friends for donations. In 2015 she collected about $415. It costs $1,000 to pay for a trip for one veteran and last year Alexie made enough to sponsor World War II Veteran Tom Duddleston. She was able to see him when he came home and said it was "amazing."
At the Chipotle on Oracle near First on Wednesday, half of the proceeds from participating customers between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. went to Honor Flight Southern Arizona. Other people also came in to give donations.
Nine-year-old Alexie Danna helped organize a fundraiser for @HonorFlightSAZ and I’m told they brought in around $3,000! That’s enough to send three Veterans on an Honor Flight. Story tonight at 10 on @kgun9 https://t.co/TWrKJVhT6x
— Whitney Clark (@whitneyclarktv) December 14, 2017
World War II Veteran Donald Gregis stopped by the restaurant. He went on an Honor Flight in 2015.
"Oh it was wonderful. Everything was taken care of," Gregis said. "I couldn't believe it. Guardians wouldn't let us spend any money at all. Couldn't even buy our own drinks. They just took such good care of us it was unbelieveable."
Gregis says he loved seeing the WWII memorial and the welcoming crowds at the airport.
"I think the thing that got me most was the crowds that met us at each airport," Gregis said. "Especially coming back home. There must have been hundreds of people. Never expected anything like that."
Mansur says the next Honor Flight out of Tucson will likely be in May.