Clearwater Elementary raises more than $8,000 to send veterans to D.C.

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Students at Clearwater Elementary are helping veterans visit memorials in Washington, D.C.

The Kansas Honor Flight sends veterans to the nation's capital several times a year. While the trip is free for veterans, the travel costs add up. That's where the Clearwater students are stepping in.

"We're so excited," said Clearwater Elementary Principal Mike Welty. "Our kids have been raising funds all month to honor veterans and send them on this Kansas Honor Flight."

The students at Clearwater raised around $8,180 through chores and asking for donations from parents or family members. That's enough to send 10 more veterans on an Honor Flight next year.

"We made silhouettes at our school," said Heather Ede, an At-risk Aid at Clearwater. "For each veteran we'd get to send, we had one up there. We thought maybe we'd get to four. I ended up making 10 silhouettes, so our whole wall in our building is full of silhouettes."

A veteran told KAKE News he was surprised by the support when he came down the escalator at Eisenhower National Airport Friday.

"I can't believe all these people are here, I just can't believe it," veteran Dan Budke said. He and his two brothers served at different times in the Vietnam era, and all three were on this Honor Flight. "A lot of us had never been to D.C. before. We went right to the big stuff. You know, Arlington."

The veterans visit memorials on a three-day trip, then they are greeted back in Wichita with a ceremony.

"It's all about welcoming them home and giving them the right welcome home that not all of them got when they came home the first time," Welty said.

The Honor Flight is always accepting volunteers and donors. To find out how you can help, click here or visit kansashonorflight.org.

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