VetsRoll receives over $10,000 from organizations and community


Photo: VetsRoll

VetsRoll headed out on their 14th journey, taking over 200 veterans to see the sights in Washington DC on May 19, 2024.

Giving an extra boost of support on Monday, May 6 at the Rockton American Center, the Rockton American Legion Auxiliary of Unit #332, the RDM Foundation, and private donors came together to present a check to VetsRoll founder Mark Finnegan.

Representatives from the Auxiliary presented $1,200. The RDM Foundation had a check for $4,000. Bus donations from the public were $4,800, plus another $40 from the generosity of many organizations and individuals. Combined totals equaled a total amount of $10,040.

Since its inception in 2010, VetsRoll has traveled 337,000 miles by convoy, allowing veterans to see memorable sites such as the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio, the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the Korean, Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials, Arlington National Cemetery with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the National WWII Memorial in Washington, and the MLK and FDR memorials.

Vets Roll has hosted 2,470 WWII, Korean and Vietnam era veterans, as well as Rosie the Riveters, from 38 states and the District of Columbia

John and Mark Finnegan started the program in loving memory of their father Sy who was a businessman and a WWII veteran. Their mom, Barbara, worked as a decoder for the War Department in Arlington, VA - a Army Signal Corps civilian office employee whom VetsRoll classifies as a "Rosie."  The family owns Finnegans’ RV Center in South Beloit, IL.

A full medical team and loving volunteers, with 170 assistants on the buses, play an important part in every trip.

Each organization who donated holds a special appreciation of veterans.

The RDM Foundation was formed in memory of Ryan D. Masters.

Masters spent a large part of his life in Rockton attending Rockton Grade School, Whitman Post Elementary, Stephen Mack and Hononegah Community High School. After high school he went to Southwest Minnesota University for one semester before transferring to UW Platteville for a year.

Masters began serving in the United States Marine Corp in 2014 where he earned the rank of corporal. Corporal Masters finished deployments in Okinawa in 2015, 2016 and 2017: a total of two six month deployments. Masters worked with the Delta Amphibious Assault Vehicle as a crew chief.

After he returned to civilian life, Ryan struggled to readjust. He died by suicide on March 9, 2021 at the age of 28.

The RDM Foundation has donated money to Mission 22 and to the Rockton American Legion. The RDM Foundation continues to expand support of all veterans while adhering to their goals of raising awareness of veterans suicide.

Friends and family join in remembering Corporal Ryan Masters during an annual golf outing, slated this year for June 8 and already sold out.

“We are also aligned with Macktown Construction who donates $100 per design to the RDM Foundation,” Ryan's mother Jamie Kuney said.

"We often think of helping veterans who are struggling as being younger veterans; however, this donation may give an older veteran some joy," Kuney said. “We never know who may be struggling.”

The Auxiliary's donation came from money collected through a "poppy fund." Money in this fund is used for items directly related to veterans. Rockton Village President Peterson reads a “Poppy Proclamation” every year in May.

Rockton's American Legion Auxiliary gives out poppies each year in exchange for a possible donation to be used to further help in the support of all veterans. The purpose of the poppy program is to elevate awareness and respect for our veterans.

Millions of poppies are produced by disabled veterans to help them retrain and to gain strength and mental sharpness.

In hopes of donating toward future Vets Roll trips, and to help fill other needs, the Auxiliary and friends will be hosting “Poppy Days” on May 24 and 25 and May 31 and June 1 from 9 a.m. until noon, and again from 1-4 p.m., on Blackhawk and Main Streets.

Mark Finnegan expressed his immense gratitude for these donations and all of the amazing support for Vets Roll.

Bring your flags and signs to welcome our heroes home at the victory parade at the Eclipse Center the evening of May 22, 2024 with an estimated arrival time of 9:15 to 9:30 p.m.

More News from South Beloit
I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified