Auburndale Leadership class resumes Dells trip for veterans
By Mike Warren
AUBURNDALE – In 1946, World War II veterans around the world were reacclimating themselves to everyday life, both at home and at work. That same year, a Wisconsin tradition was born – the Wisconsin Ducks.
On May 11, those worlds come together once again, as Auburndale High School’s Community Leadership class resumes its annual trip to Wisconsin Dells for area veterans. Ten students will join 28 vets on a voyage to ride the Ducks.
“The class raises money to take our veterans on the Ducks trip to the Dells, which is our version of a mini Honor Flight,” said Auburndale junior, Ashlyn Grimm. “My great-grandpa was a veteran, so I have a soft place in my heart for veterans. And we do Veterans Coffee Club every other Tuesday. That’s where they just all come in and they get coffee, and we sit down and we talk to them for probably an hour-and-a-half. That’s probably one of my favorite things we do.
“It makes their day just talking to them for 20 minutes. And it’s honestly really cool to see how happy they get just from having a conversation with someone.”
Those are not the only activities Grimm and her Community Leadership classmates are involved with.
“One of our activities is putting up veteran banners throughout Auburndale. And it teaches leadership. So, you have to make a cold call, you have to learn how to talk, learn how to leave a voicemail, just a lot of skills that you’re going to need throughout life. So we call to get all the things set up to put up those veteran banners,” Grimm added.
“We have to get two speakers in per quarter to come in and talk about how they help out the community. And we do Community Coffee every other Wednesday.”
This year’s trip to Wisconsin Dells is three years in the making. After the first two trips were made in 2018 and 2019, the 2020 and 2021 trips were cancelled, due to concerns brought on by COVID-19.
This year’s version of the Dells Ducks trip will feature something new for the participating veterans – special t-shirts commemorating the one-of-a-kind voyage. The school will have a sendoff for the vets, complete with hugs, handshakes and high fives from elementary students and community members.
On their way back, a police escort will join the journey in Dexterville, arriving to a “Welcome Home” celebration at Auburndale High School at 2:45 p.m. The public is welcome to join the reception. Anyone from the public who wishes to help raise funds for the trip can participate in that way as well. Checks can be mailed to Auburndale High School, Attention: Leadership Class, PO Box 139, Auburndale, WI, 54412; write “Ducks” in the memo line of your check.