LENA, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)- In January, a retired F-4 phantom fighter jet completed a long journey from New Mexico to Lena, Illinois. A group of veterans have been planning to create a Northwest Illinois Combat Memorial, with the jet serving as the centerpiece. But the project came with a $150,000 price tag.
Lena student Alec Schlichting had not just one, but two great ideas to raise money for the project.. He was out in the heat today to chip-in.
“I’m raising money for the F-4 phantom jet that’s out at Rafters, and I’m selling lemonade shake-ups for donations, a dollar or more,” he said.
Alec learned that fundraising for the project was already underway and decided to jump in on the effort.
“The people that were in the American Legion were already raising money, then at school I thought about selling some suckers,” Alec said.
Selling suckers raised about one hundred dollars, which put Alec on the F-4 project leaders’ radar.
“Well, we were just so thrilled when we first got word that Alec did this. We said, really, we can’t believe somebody, a fifth-grader, would take this upon himself to do something like this,” said Denny Luke, a board member for the F-4 project.
Alec’s fundraising efforts continued with a lemonade stand. All of the project board members were alongside him, grilling brats and burgers as well as getting other residents excited about the project.
“We are so thankful for kids like Alec that take an interest in something like this. There’s a future generation in that stuff, and we’re glad they’re willing to help out with something that’s this important,” said Luke.
Alec’s classmate Jackson Becker convinced his parents to come buy lemonade.
“Alec’s my friend, and I want to help support to put the jet in town,” Jackson said.
Luke says even though the jet will be the centerpiece of the memorial, the message behind it is even more important.
“This part that we’re doing here in Lena- it’s not just because it’s a military plane here. It’s to honor all veterans that have served any time in the history of the United States,” Luke said.
Alec’s fundraising goal with his lemonade stand was $1,000.