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Quilting for Honor Flight
Badger Honor Flight volunteer Bea Patterson and Diane Kappe hold the king-sized quilt Kappe made to raise money for the Honor Flight at Kappes home March 7. The quilt will be raffled off at a breakfast at the Moose Lodge in Monroe June 3. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - Last year, Diane Kappe of Monroe promised Bea Patterson she would lend help in any way she could for the Badger Honor Flight.

After thinking it over, Kappe suggested she contribute a quilt made by her own hand.

Patterson, who lives in Juda and volunteers with the Badger Honor Flight, loved the idea. The two got together Jan. 16 and talked a little about the plan and design, mulling over red, white and blue colors.

Within the week, Kappe had finished the quilt.

"I was totally shocked," Patterson said.

Once she had the quilt materials assembled, Kappe brought it to Pat Johnson of Monroe, who didn't hesitate to donate her time and materials for the effort. Johnson did the longarm quilting, which is the process of using a sewing machine to sew together the quilt top, batting, a name for the filling, and the back into a finished quilt.

Creating the quilt was more than just a favor for a friend. It was also a way for Kappe to honor her late father, Leo Havlik, a Korean War Army veteran, and her late husband, Gary Kappe, a Vietnam War Army veteran.

The quilt is king-sized with a patriotic palette of red, white and blue. It features a large star design in the middle surrounded by navy and bordered by smaller squares and red trim. Intricate star designs in the embroidery work done by Johnson can be see upon closer inspection.

The Badger Honor Flight gives veterans the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to visit memorials in honor of their service. Patterson said it costs approximately $500 to send a veteran on the flight.

Previously, there have been four Badger Honor Flights per year, but this year there will be five flights - two in the spring and three in the fall.

"It doesn't cost the veteran a penny," said Patterson, who helps find and register local veterans for the trip. "That's why it's important to have fundraisers to help send them and properly thank them."

Patterson accompanies the veterans to the airport for their sendoff and is always there to welcome them home.

"You would think they would be exhausted when they get off their flight - they're not," Patterson said. "They are so happy, so vibrant. They can't say enough about it. And that's what people need to see. It's hard to describe."

Kappe said she also has talked to veterans who have taken the trip and said it was the best experience in their lives. Kappe plans to make a quilt every year for the Honor Flight and has already planned how the next one will look.

She referenced a common saying in the quilting community, hoping to relay the message to whomever receives the quilt she made.

"One thing they always say is don't ever wash a quilt, because you wash the love out of it," Kappe said.