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CORYDON, Ind. - In September, as many were busy adjusting to cooler temps and the back-to-school routine, workers and leadership from UAW Local 862 and Ford Motor Company were placing finishing touches on a brand new country retreat built to provide solace to veteran’s, first responders and their families.
A few years ago, a man named Rodney Bruce found himself the proud new owner of 240 acres and a hunting cottage just outside of Corydon, Ind. The property had been in his family for generations and Bruce longed to do something worthwhile with it.
Throughout Bruce’s life, his grandfather, who had served in WWII, expressed the hope that there would someday be a place where veterans could come together and reconnect. To Bruce, the property presented the perfect opportunity to fulfill his grandfather’s hopes and the Hero Reward program was born.
Bruce went to work turning the old hunting cabin into a lodge and going about the business of developing Hero Reward into a fully-functioning non-profit organization for Veteran’s. In 2011, the first guest began arriving eager to take in the scenery and enjoy all the amenities the Hero Reward retreat has to offer including hiking, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding and all at no cost to the Veterans.
In 2012, Todd Dunn, president, UAW Local 862, caught wind of the Hero Reward project and thought it was something he wanted to be a part of. What’s more, Dunn was sure Ford Motor Company and members of Local 862 could do something phenomenal to make the retreat even more rewarding to Veteran’s.
Dunn reached out to Bruce and learned that while the old hunting cabin had been converted to a lodge, it was not handicap-accessible. Now, Dunn had a mission.
“We had to get the idea of building another cottage that could house handicapped Veteran’s and their families on the map,” Dunn said. “We sent a proposal to Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president, and Martin Mulloy, vice president, Labor Affairs with Ford Motor Company. Once they were on board, the project became seamless.”
The Ford/UAW Community Joint Programs Fund made this dream a reality by donating a total of $100,000 worth of materials and labor to get the 2,400 square foot cozy cottage completed.
The retreat is now open and welcoming veterans, first responders and their families. Allowing them a safe, beautiful place far from the hustle of every-day life, to relax and reconnect with what matters most: family, nature and peace of mind.
Follow the retreat through the construction process via ‘the ramp guys’ page on Facebook and learn more about the Hero Reward organization at www.heroreward.com.