Disabled Veteran Shares How His Hometown Inspired Him
By Mike Perleberg
U.S. Army veteran Brett Bondurant, of Lawrenceburg, was the featured speaker at the Dearborn County Clearinghouse’s annual Hunger Awareness Event on Thursday, April 20. Photo by Mike Perleberg, Eagle Country 99.3.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – The Dearborn County Clearinghouse’s motto is “Offering a hand up, not a hand out.”
But on Thursday it was the non-profit food pantry’s turn to get a hand from its community. Approximately 200 people attended the Clearinghouse’s sixth annual Hunger Awareness Event held at the Lawrenceburg Event Center on Thursday. Many made monetary donations or pledge time to volunteer with the organization.
As the evening’s keynote speaker, retired U.S. Army veteran Brett Bondurant shared his heroic story. The Lawrenceburg High School graduate was severely wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated as he was sweeping an area for mines in Afghanistan on September 28, 2011.
“On the day of my accident, my life changed drastically. This is something I never thought would happen to me, but it did. People often ask me how I deal with the daily obstacles. I never really have a good answer at the time, however, I am certain that I am a reflection of my community,” shared Bondurant, a double-leg amputee, as he stood at the podium on prosthetic legs.
“Sometimes people run into hard times or bad luck and need some help getting back on their feet. This community literally did put me back on my feet.”
Bondurant is welcomed on the stage by Pastor Larry Campbell. Photo by Chuck Folop.
Bondurant spoke of the embrace his community has shown toward him since he was injured while serving.
“I’m not telling you this story so that you would feel sorry for me. I’m telling you all this because I wanted to share with you what inspired me to keep moving forward. When my wife and I moved back home, we were scared of what daily life may consist of. The main thing that helped us keep pushing forward and gave us hope was this community,” Bondurant said.
Bondurant and his wife, London, received a free wheelchair-friendly home from Homes For Our Troops in 2013. He remains active playing wheelchair basketball, sled hockey, and keeping up with his two young daughters.
“I enjoy the luxury of being home with my family almost as much as my daughters enjoy wheelchair rides,” he said.
Former Clearinghouse volunteer Arlene Young was honored posthumously for her contributions to the organization. Young’s family took the stage to accept the award on her behalf.
“Arlene is the type of person you would want to keep forever, and that is what we will do,” said Michelle Bunter, volunteer coordinator at the Clearinghouse.
The Dearborn County Clearinhouse helps feed more than 3,600 needy individuals in over 1,300 households in the area. It’s school-based Sacks of Snacks program is currently serving more than 220 local children by providing them bags of food on Fridays so that they won’t go hungry at home during weekends.
Karry Hollan, coordinator for the Dearborn County Clearinghouse, said the non-profit does so much more than feeding the needy. It has also aided clients by paying rent or utility bills, providing Christmas toys for kids, and teaching employment skills and job search services.
“Our programs wouldn’t be possible without the community supporting us,” said Hollan.