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Walmart locations raise funds for Guard memorial

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More than $200,000 collected from 98 Walmarts in Kentucky

By Shelley Spillman

Governor Steve Beshear visited the Lawrenceburg Walmart to thank employees statewide for raising money for the Kentucky National Guard Memorial.

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In total, 98 Walmart locations statewide raised $208,656.52 toward making the dream of the Kentucky Guard National Memorial a reality.

Ground breaking on the memorial began in May at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.

David Reitnauer, Walmart Regional general manager and vice president, said they started out with the initial goal of raising $100,000, but in true Walmart fashion, the employees rallied and rose more than double that amount.

“At Walmart we salute our American heroes,” said Reitnauer.

Carolyn Cole, Walmart associate, said the money was raised by a variety of fundraisers including bake sales and raffles.

She credited the Lawrenceburg Walmart employees for heading up the cause and gaining community involvement.

In addition to being deployed overseas for incidents such as the recent Middle East conflict, Beshear said he’s utilized the Kentucky National Guard for 11 natural disasters statewide since he’s been in office.

He said he utilizes the National Guard so often that he said often told people, “Superman is not available, so I’m sending the national guard.”

“The National Guard always saves the day,” he said.

Beshear said the memorial is for remembering the past and present members of the Kentucky National Guard who work tireless to defend American freedom.

Major General Edward W. Tonini said since 9/11, the Kentucky National Guard has lost 18 guardsmen who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend their country.

Tonini said the memorial is a reminder to never forget the sacrifice of guardsmen and their families.

He described Walmart’s fundraising efforts as “nothing short of remarkable.”

Tonini marveled at the passion and united effort Walmart employees made statewide to make the memorial possible.

In total, the Kentucky National Guard has raised more than $1.3 million for the memorial. For more information, visit www.guardmemorial.com