At last week’s BioForward Wisconsin Annual Member Meeting at Madison’s Monona Terrace Convention Center, Judy Hall, a production support technician at SHINE, was honored as a 2022 Community Service Award winner.
Judy has dedicated 15-30 hours per week to VetsRoll, a veterans honor trip to Washington D.C. that sends vets on an all-inclusive, four-day trip to memorials across the country.
This was the first year that BioForward awarded individuals and companies for their community service. Our partner, Findorff, also received an award for their work supporting Meals on Wheels.
“I started volunteering with VetsRoll in 2012 as one way to say thank you to veterans,” Hall said. “I helped at various fundraising events, at the trip orientation, trip check-in day and the welcome home event. In 2015, I asked to head up the VetsRoll merchandise area. I went on the trip as an assistant in 2015.
“It was beyond words how moving and emotional the trip was. It amazed me how quiet the guests were when we first left Beloit, then on the way home to Beloit it was nonstop chatter with each other, and lifelong friendships were forged. One of the gentlemen was a distant cousin I didn’t know I had!”
The four-day trip consists of stops in: Lafayette, Indiana; overnight in Dayton, Ohio, to tour the Air Force Museum; Carnegie, Pennsylvania; and then on to D.C. While in D.C., they tour the World War I Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Arlington Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The next morning, they head back to Beloit, stopping every few hours. The trip is escorted there and back by the State Police in each state and members of the Rockford Fire and Iron chapter motorcyclists. The group is welcomed back home by fireworks, fire and police representatives from nearly all the local communities and thousands of people lining the streets and parking lot of the Eclipse Center in Beloit.
By the end of the trip, lifelong friendships have been made, and some long-lost friends have found each other. Most importantly, closure has been found!
Judy shared, “While passing the crowds cheering and welcoming everyone home, one of the WWII vets on the bus was in tears. He indicated that when he arrived home from the war, there were three people there to greet him. The only reason two of them were there is because they wanted money. This homecoming for him was the closure he didn`t know how bad he needed.”
Cheryl Peterson, community and employee engagement manager, nominated Judy for the award and said, “Judy not only exemplifies the SHINE core values (SHINE Together, Empowered Accountability, Responsibility, Grit and Pioneering Spirit), but she has applied these same principles with her commitment to support our honored veterans for more than 11 years – truly admirable.”
Hall’s volunteering duties include logistics, hotels and merchandise for the trip of over 165 people and fundraising events throughout the year. This year’s trip with 10 coach buses is scheduled for May 21-24. Click here to learn more or donate.
BioForward Wisconsin’s mission is to grow Wisconsin’s biohealth companies and unite the industry to define the future of healthcare. Jessica Giffey, SHINE’s Chief Operating Officer of Systems and Therapeutics, is a BioForward board member.