DANVILLE — When Kristin Dailey sells red wristbands to support Wreaths Across America, she feels her late grandfather’s spirit nearby.
“I feel you here, grandpa,” she says, addressing Rick Dailey Sr. “I feel you telling me to do this.”
Dailey, 26, of Georgetown came up with the idea to sell rubber bracelets in honor of her grandfather, who was senior ride captain for Region 4 of the Illinois Patriot Guard.
All proceeds from the $3 bands will be given to the local Wreaths Across America to buy wreaths for the Danville National Cemetery. Deadline for this year is Nov. 24.
Dailey ordered 300 bands to start, and then ordered 300 more. One side says: Remember everyone deployed … until they all come home. The other side says: In loving memory of Rick Dailey Sr.
Remember Everyone Deployed (RED) also is the idea behind people wearing red on Fridays in honor of those serving overseas.
As of earlier this week, Dailey had 100 bands left. So far, she has raised more than $1,400.
A lot of times, people will buy a band or two, and say “keep the change,” she said.
Dailey said her grandfather, who died Sept. 30, was a big supporter of Wreaths Across America, and especially wanted to see the cemetery covered.
She used to go with him to the ceremonies, saying, “He was really excited when the circle was almost covered. He was gung ho about getting the cemetery covered more.”
After her grandfather’s funeral, the young woman asked “What can I do?” And that’s when she got involved in the wreaths project.
She contacted coordinator Tammy Williams about selling the bands, and Williams said that was a good idea.
“I think it is awesome. It took off like wildfire,” Williams said of the wristband sales. “I love the ideas that people come up with for fund raising.”
At this point, Williams has enough to buy more than 3,000 wreaths. When all of the fundraising is over, she expects to hit the 4,000 mark. The cemetery has about 11,000 graves.
She’s also raising funds tonight at the Danville Dashers' Military Night, which starts at 7 p.m.
Dailey recalled that her grandfather would wear a red shirt every Friday. He and his Patriot Guard buddies would meet for breakfast at VIPS three times a week, and the restaurant staff still wears red on Friday.
“They’re a group of good guys,” she said. “I still have a piece of him (through them).”
Dailey, who’s a teacher in the Child Development Center at Danville Area Community College, also is a Patriot Guard Rider and wears a vest that her grandfather gave her. Riders do not need to be veterans.
Next year, Dailey wants to have a memorial motorcycle ride for Dailey Sr., which also would be a wreaths fundraiser.
“He was such a supporter of Wreaths Across America and was always about the military and veterans. He was one of the most unselfish people I’ve ever met,” she said. Rick Dailey was an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War.
Dailey encourages people to buy a wreath, which is $15, or to contribute to Wreaths Across America so Williams can order them.
“All those stones … those men and women served our country. They deserve something special every year, no matter what,” Dailey said.
“They put their lives on the line and they deserve something nice.”
Dailey has seen the wreath campaign blossom in the past couple of years, and hopes it continues to grow.
The ceremony will be 11 a.m. Dec. 16 at the National Cemetery; fresh evergreen wreaths will be placed afterward. Speaker will be Illinois Sen. Scott Bennett.
Wreaths representing the different branches of military and Gold Star families will be placed. The branches are Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Air Force. Wreaths also will be placed in acknowledgement of POW/MIA.
One wreath in recognition of PTSD will be placed in memory of Dailey Sr., upon his request. Dailey brought awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder locally.
Taps will be played, and two planes from the Vermilion Regional Airport will fly overhead.
• Deadline to buy wreaths is Nov. 24. Go to the Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/coverdanvillenationalcemetary or visit www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.
The Danville page is: https://wreaths.fastport.com/donateLocation.html?page=19179
• You also may email Tammy Williams at email@example.com or call (217) 516-2354.
If you miss the deadline, money will go toward buying wreaths for next year.
• The bands sold by Kristin Dailey cost $3 and are available by messaging her on the Wreaths Facebook page.