KERMIT, Texas (Nexstar) – On this beautiful day in Kermit, the sound of motorcycles roared far and near.
One by one, military veterans and members of the Patriot Guard Riders rode up to the county park on S. East Avenue. They had a meeting planned with a young man, and they showed up right on time.
The focus of the meeting was 12-year-old Dylan Wise. He, too, would like to serve his country. But in July of last year, Dylan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The 6th grader is now insulin-dependent. That challenge stands in front of him, and his dreams, to attend West Point Military Academy for college.
“I don’t know if a lot of people understand, but with Type 1 diabetics, they kind of feel left out,” said Auralia Wise, Dylan’s mother. “Because they can’t go and do everything that everybody wants to because they have to stop and check their blood sugar and check to make sure they have insulin and get it into their system.”
Auralia says Type 1 diabetics can’t serve in the military. But, she’s counting on advancements in science to maybe change that.
In what seemed to be an incredible show of support and strength, these veterans decided to meet the moment, by meeting Dylan for a special exchange. They handed Dylan a shadow box. It was one filled with medals, emblems, pins, and patches.
“I will hang it up on the wall, keep it with me, and wear the dog tags with me all the time,” Dylan said.
“I gave him a copy of the combat patch I wore in the Desert Shield, Desert Storm,” said James Silvester, an Army veteran.
Rick Mitchell is a former Sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division. He helped organize the presentation.
“It’s special. I saw a post on Facebook that his mom had posted about him. He had little military plaque stuff,” Mitchell said. “And I just messaged her, and said ‘Hey, you know, does he like everything military?’ and she said, he loves it.”
Rick says he gave Dylan some patches off his desert combat uniform that he wore in Iraq, and some ribbons from his Army Class A uniform, too.
“This is amazing. This is for him. It’s not for me or the other guys, it’s for him,” Mitchell said.
Rick says other people sent patches, too, from Pecos, Monahans, Midland, and Alpine. Veterans as far as Alabama and Tennessee sent items as well.
Darrell Thornton of VFW Post 4149 shared a unique pin with Dylan that is part of the organization “22Kill.” 22 represents the number of veterans who die by suicide on average each day, according to the group.
“We’re a band of brothers and sisters… It was to share with him a part of something we hold very dear to us,” Thornton said. “If we’re having him join our family in a way that he can, we want him to be aware of what we think about, what’s important to us.”
These military veterans, now gathered around Dylan, say they stick together and take care of one another. And today, there’s no doubt Dylan’s family got a little bit bigger. So, Dylan has a message for them.
“Thank you very much for your service,” Dylan said.
He also has a message to other kids with Type 1 diabetes, who might share the same dream.
“Keep your dream alive and just don’t give up.”
Items can still be shared. You can drop off your patches/coins/memorabilia at the VFW Post 4149 in Midland at 409 Veterans Airpark Ln, Midland, TX 79705 or mail them to c/o LeAnne Thornton – 3903 Placid Ct. – Midland, TX 79703.
22Kill is an organization that raises awareness and combats suicide by empowering veterans, first responders, and their families through traditional and non-traditional therapies. You can learn more about the organization here.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you are in a crisis and need someone to talk to right away, or you are concerned about someone else, call 1-800-273-8255 or send a text message to 838255.
You can also chat online through suicidepreventionlifeline.org or www.veteranscrisisline.net.
The Patriot Guard Riders is an organization founded in 2005. The Patriot Guard Riders is a 100% Volunteer, Federally registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which ensures dignity and respect at memorial services honoring Fallen Military Heroes, First Responders and honorably discharged Veterans. You can learn more about them here.