On February 9, 2019, Active Duty members of the Armed Forces, Veterans, and a myriad of First Responders from the City of Janesville, Rock County, and Walworth County gathered at Janesville Craig High School to honor the memory of Sgt Dan Thompson who gave his life in Afghanistan 2009 during the Global War on Terror. They were also there to celebrate three Janesville Craig Students named Claire Mikkelson, Taylor Salmon, and Sam Smith who raised nearly $20,000 for a family in their city battling pediatric cancer. They had the emphatic support of their Principal Dr. Alison Bjoin and Janesville Police Department School Liaison Officer Brian Foster.
Also present was Cancer Survivor, Combat Veteran, and Janesville Police Officer Justin Stubbendick and his friend Jon Barthel, whose life Justin helped save after Jon was attacked during an attempted homicide. Justin and Jon have made Isaac’s Fight against pediatric cancer, Their Fight. They have tirelessly stood at the side of the Johnson Family to ensure they are supported through it all.
Earlier that same day, University of Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team Starter Brad Davison played a basketball game in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As soon as his responsibilities to his team concluded, he made his way to Janesville to help ensure that Isaac’s family knew they had his support as well. He also gave a hug and some kind words to Dan Thompson’s mother who was moved to tears by his kindness. Joe Hedstrom, another member of the UW Men’s Basketball Team, also made the trip with Brad.
In my opinion, no family facing the staggering burdens of dealing with pediatric cancer should ever have to face crushing financial burdens as well. They are to be encircled with the most powerful and notable among us who help them bear their burden, who encourage them in their struggle, and who take the time to bring awareness to how we can help and support them. It was one of the honors of my life to be a small part of ensuring this family’s financial burden was a little bit easier so they can focus on making the most of every moment with their beautiful child. It was one of the honors of my life to help ensure that the mother of a young man who gave his life during voluntary military service would know that her son’s legacy will live on the hearts and minds of everyone present in that gymnasium as well as in those who read and share this post.
The Janesville Craig basketball team won the game that night, and the student body broke out in a self-initiated chant of Isaac Strong! Isaac Strong! In that gymnasium on February 9, 2019, an America worthy of the sacrifices of our fallen happened. I am honored to have witnessed it, and to share it with you here.
My name is Ben Biddick, the Executive Director of United Patriot Missions. Help me and my team make more moments like this a reality.
Learn how you can support and encourage Isaac at the Facebook Page: @IsaacStrongWisconsin. Learn more about Veteran Owned United Patriot Missions at www.unitedpatriotmissions.org!