Girl, 9, helps send veterans on Honor Flight

Girl, 9, helps send veterans on Honor Flight
Print this flyer and bring it to the fundraiser on Wednesday, Dec. 13, to support Alexie. (Source: Honor Flight Southern Arizona)
Print this flyer and bring it to the fundraiser on Wednesday, Dec. 13, to support Alexie. (Source: Honor Flight Southern Arizona)

It's a trip of a lifetime for a lifetime lived.

Across the country, hundreds of veterans make their way to Washington, D.C. on an Honor Flight.

About six times a year, three in the fall and three in the spring, veterans of World War II and the Korean War will depart and return to the Tucson International Airport. Nearly all of them, in age, are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.

So you might be stunned to learn that one huge supporter is just 9 years old.

"People are very nice and kind, so I think I should be very nice and kind back to them," said Alexie Danna, 9, when asked why she likes helping the Honor Flight program.

Kathy Mansur has been a volunteer with the Honor Flight Southern Arizona chapter since it started in 2011.

"She just has a heart for giving. You don't see that often in someone as young as her," Mansur said.

The Honor Flight program contributes about $1,000 per veteran so they can travel for free. According to Mansur, the southern Arizona chapter has done 23 flights for 785 veterans.

"These are the men and women who availed themselves in a national effort to keep America safe during World War II (1941 - 1946) and the Korean War (1950-1955). It is now our responsibility to keep them from being forgotten, and to thank them for a job they did so long ago. We will provide those veterans living in southern Arizona, a three-day trip to Washington D.C. to visit the National WWII Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial - at no cost," the Honor Flight Southern Arizona website states.

A monstrous task for a child like Alexie, who when she was six, was just trying to help a 100-year-old family friend that she met through her grandfather.

She grew close to World War II veteran Roy Beebe, who introduced the young Alexie to the Honor Flight program. It was something he was unable to partake in before he died at 101 years old.

"He probably would've liked to see it," Alexie told Tucson News Now. "I bet when the Veterans go see their monuments, I think they're proud to go see their monuments."

In turn, she raised the full amount for another WWII veteran, named Tom, to make the trip two years ago. Alexie went door-to-door to collect donations and paid for Tom's Honor Flight trip all by herself.

Now, as a 9-year-old, she has no intention of slowing down.

"It just makes you look and see that our future is bright," Mansur said. "We have young people that care about others and appreciate our military."

On Wednesday night, Dec. 13, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., you can help Alexie collect for the next flight. With help from her family, she has set up a fundraiser at Chipotle Mexican Grill in Oro Valley, at 10604 N. Oracle Rd. The restaurant will reportedly donate 50 percent of the proceeds to Alexie and Honor Flight Southern Arizona.

If you would like to go to the fundraiser and contribute, show up, purchase a meal, and say you're there to support Honor Flight Southern Arizona. Or, you can bring the flyer and present it at checkout to help another veteran make the journey to Washington, D.C.

MOBILE USERS: Download our Tucson News Now app for Apple and Android devices.

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.