Wayne Able’s life changed in 2012 when he came across a news photo of a Marine standing guard outside the Indiana hospital room of a sick child.
“That story inspired me,” he recalled. “I knew then that I needed to do something to let sick children know that they are not alone.”
The Alton, IL, letter carrier, a Navy veteran, wanted other children battling illnesses to receive military recognition.
Able recruited William Perkins, an Alton retail associate and Marine veteran, and the two founded the Courage, Inspiration and Determination (CID) program, which is run out of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1308 in Alton.
Able designed a CID medal that features a child’s hand on the front and the words “Courage, Inspiration and Determination” on the back.
“The program recognizes these special children for their courage to face their illness head on, the inspiration their courage brings to others, and their amazing determination that they will beat this illness,” Perkins said.
Donning their VFW military uniforms, Able and Perkins and volunteers travel to present CID medals and certificates to sick children in full military ceremonies that include the posting of the colors.
When unable to travel, Able mails packages to children or contacts other VFW posts to coordinate ceremonies.
“The children are very happy to receive this recognition, but you can really see how much it touches the hearts of the child’s parents,” Able said.
Able is thankful for the support of his colleagues, Supervisor Rayna Timms and Postmaster Paula Webster, as well as the news coverage the ceremonies have received.
He’s also hopeful for the program’s future. “It would be great if this program grows to the point where kids across the country can receive the recognition and support they deserve,” he said.