ROBINSON, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — The 6th annual Folds of Honor golf outing hosted by the Southern Illiana Patriots Thursday at Quail Creek Golf Course.
“When my husband passed away in 2016, my junior in high school, who was touring colleges, came up to me and asked me ‘Mom, will I still be able to go to college?’ To this day, that makes me cry.” Pamela Kendall said.
Thanksgiving of 2016, Kendall lost her husband, Chief Master Sgt Bill Kendall, of the United States Air Force. At the time, she didn’t know how to answer her son’s question.
And that’s where this story begins. Lt. Col. Dan Rooney, an F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard was aboard his flight home from his second tour in Iraq.
“The founder witnessed a casket coming off the plane and a family standing at the end of the casket to receive it. That is something that absolutely no family wants to go through,” Kendall said.
Since that night, Lt. Col. Rooney committed to starting Folds of Honor. An organization that provides life-changing scholarships to the children of America’s fallen or disabled military members and America’s first responders.
It’s a mission that a local organization known as the Southern Illiana Patriots has gotten behind.
Steve Andrew, a member of the Southern Illiana Patriots said he felt connected personally. “I served in Vietnam in 69 through 71 and I think what we’re doing today for our Vets, I wish we would’ve done for our vets in 1969.”
This year the Southern Illiana Patriots hosted their sixth annual golf outing. 137 golfers tee off at the Quail Creek Country Club in Robinson.
Michelle Landes, Regional Impact Coordinator for Folds of Honor said, “It’s great to see a bunch of Patriots come together to play the game of golf. Our founder is a PGA professional, so golf is a big part of what we do.”
“Last year we raised $93,000. Our goal this year is to raise $100,000,” said Terry Schwab, member of Southern Illiana Patriots.
As for the question Pamela’s son asked her all those years ago?
“Thanks to Folds of Honor, we’ve been able to live lives that kids their age should and that their friends are living. Going to college, joining fraternities, and finding a bond with brothers in their fraternity.
For more information on Folds of Honor and opportunities for scholarships visit their website.