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Dedication to organizations often means putting in countless hours attending meetings or taking part in fund-raising efforts.
Saturday, Marianna Sherman, 82 of Kenton and Marjorie Bryan, 83, of Lima, will go above and beyond what would be considered dedication to their service club when they parachute from a plane for the Blue Star Mothers of America.
Their jumps will be on Saturday at the Lima Allen County Airport.
Both women are members of the Hardin County’s Chapter 32 of the organization and have deep military roots. Each woman’s father served in World War I. Marianna’s husband served in World War II. Her son was in the Army and her grandson served as a Marine in the Iraq War. Marjorie, the mother of seven, had three sons serve the military. Her granddaughter is set to join the Marines within a few days.
“Mom bleeds red, white and blue,” said Marjorie’s daughter, Karen High.
The adventure began last fall, when the two women were taking part in New York’s Veterans Day Parade. They were being bused between event locations, when Marjorie heard retired Army Ranger Mark Jones talk about a planned jump he would be making.
“I’m always opening my mouth,” said Marjorie, “and I asked him, ‘Will you take me?’ He said, ‘Any time, any place.’”
Marjorie took Jones up on his offer and convinced Marianna this could be a great opportunity to raise money for veterans.
“Marjorie is so enthusiastic about things, you just get drawn in,” said Marianna. “And she is nine months older than me.”
The plan to raise money from the event involves securing sponsors and raffling off tickets for a chance to take part in Saturday’s jump. The winner will be announced Wednesday at 50 Town Square in Lima at 10:30 a.m. Should the winner chose not to jump (“Who would want to jump out of a perfectly good plane?” asked Marianna), he can sell the winning ticket back to the women for $100 and a new winner will be drawn.
Other prizes will also be awarded in the drawings throughout the event, which begins Friday night with a fish fry at the Lima American Legion Post. Saturday’s jump is expected to take place about noon at the Lima Allen County Airport. Jumps will begin at 8:30 a.m. and run throughout the day. There is no charge to watch the jumps, just a donation for parking. Sunday’s events will feature the Army Rangers from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
Profits from the event will be divided between the Hardin County chapter of the Blue Star Mothers, the Allen County Veterans Food Pantry and the national Blue Star Mothers organization.
The local activities are also meant to highlight the 70th anniversary of the Blue Star Mothers. Keeping the organization going has been a struggle at times, said Marjorie and Marianna, but new life has been seen in recent years.
“For years we were not popular,” said Marianna. “We had just two or three people paying their dues. It was a struggle to keep it alive.”
Since Desert Storm, membership locally and across the nation has been rejuvenated. The local chapter now has more than 20 members.
The weekend event, said the women, will hopefully encourage other mothers of veterans to join the Blue Star Mothers.
“We need to get the next generation involved,” said Marjorie.
The date for the activities was changed often since their first meeting with the Rangers, said the women. Mother’s Day was considered, but interfered with the Ranger schedule. Once Saturday’s jump was set, the countdown began. Marjorie and Marianna will be joined by the Blue Mothers national president, Robin Barnes-McCarthy, who lives in Dayton. Another Kenton native and resident, Tom Meyers will represent the Wounded Warriors in the jump. Including the winner of the drawing, 10 people will take dives from the planes as part of the event, including Marjorie’s grandson, Alan High, who is 60 years her junior.
As the time drew closer for the dive, a video was shown on national news of an 80-year-old woman who jumped in tandem with an instructor and nearly died when the equipment failed. Marjorie and Marianna said they have both heard of the video, but not seen it.
Marianna’s daughter Kathleen Sherman said her mom will be with a trained Army Ranger, not a private company. She and Karen agreed, they feel comfortable putting their mothers in the hands of such trained individuals.
Marianna and Marjorie have each been cleared by their doctors to take part in the jump. In fact, said Kathleen, Marianna’s doctor donated $50 to the event.
“This is really going to happen,” said Marianna, who said she has had moments when she has questioned if she is doing the right thing.
“I haven’t,” said Marjorie. “I have been gung-ho from the beginning. We are doing this because we can. There are not many people who get this kind of opportunity, especially at our age.”
By DAN ROBINSON
Times staff writer