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Air Force Assistance Fund campaign goal met, stakes raised

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- With the campaign goal met for the 2007 Air Force Assistance Fund campaign at Vandenberg, the challenge is on to set a higher goal and to receive donations from 50 percent of Vandenberg's active duty.

With the end of the campagin drawing near, this year's goal of $45,471 was surpassed in the third week, and a new target of $77,000 has been set.

The Air Force Assistance Fund is an annual fund-raiser designed to raise money for charities that support military members and their families.  Airmen have four charities to choose from to make a donation; the Curtis E. Lemay Foundation, the Air Force Village Foundation, the Air Force Enlisted Village Foundation and the Air Force Aid Society.  The Air Force Aid Society helped out one of Vandenberg's own, nearly 20 years ago.

In 1986, Airman 1st Class Sean Reilly's son Kyle was born with respiratory complications.  Kyle was airlifted to Fresno Children's Hospital, Calif., where the cost of his care grew to an insurmountable sum.  As the now retired senior master sergeant faced bankruptcy, members of the Air Force stepped on behalf of the Reilly family, to negotiate the cost of Kyle's health care down to a manageable amount.  Next, a coalition of aid agencies paid the rest of the balance.  The Air Force Aid Society contributed $2,000.

Recently, the enlisted Thunderbirds were able to give a different kind of contibution to one of the Air Force charities-not at an air show but because of an air show cancellation.  More than 20 enlisted members of the team made a surprise visit to Hawthorn House, the Air Force Enlisted Village's assisted-living residence for widows of retired enlisted Airmen. 

The visit was the result of a dinner the night before between Senior Master Sgt. Frank Dailey, who works at nearby Hurlburt Field, Fla., and Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Webster, the line chief for the Thunderbirds. Sergeants Dailey and Webster were classmates at the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy, and the friends had decided to have dinner together the night before the air show. The team had been given tours of many of the facilities on Eglin, but they were not scheduled to see the Air Force Enlisted Village, one of the four official charities of the Air Force.

"I told Kevin he had to go see it," Sergeant Dailey said. "The ladies who live at the enlisted village are our national treasures. They had to keep the families going in a time when it was very tough to be an Air Force wife, while their husbands were serving our country. They deserve our utmost respect and admiration for what they gave to the Air Force, too."

The official end date for Vandenberg's Air Force Assistance Fund campaign is May 7. Airmen can make contributions through their unit AFAF representatives. For more information on contributing and the organizations, visit the AFAF Web site at