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Veteran-owned Villa Grove businesses fundraise for local veteran

Jerry Jenks, Beth Jenks, Mary Hite, Crystal Garrett and Ryan Garret, in front of the Embarras sign Dec. 10, after the Navy-Army game fundraiser. Photo by Dominik Stallings.

By Dominik Stallings

Two veteran-owned businesses in Villa Grove, The Korner Beehive and the Embarras Bar and Grill, raised money for Nick Maxedon, Marine Corps veteran and Newman resident. Maxedon is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.

The two businesses raised funds in several different ways, including “football squares” in the Army vs. Navy football game Dec. 10. They also took direct donations from people. Direct donations would either be in favor of the Navy or the Army so people could “put their money where their mouth is.” The winning team would be entered in a gift raffle. Those who participated in the football squares game won gift baskets with T-shirts, gift certificates and training sessions donated by Rally Point Fitness, a veteran-owned gym in Tuscola. The grand prize winner won a 70-inch TV.

The Army team won in a historic overtime game against the Navy, scoring 20–17. The business owners of the Embarras Bar and Grill and Korner Beehive also participated in a bet that they started last year. Depending on the team, Navy for the Korner Beehive and Army for the Embarras, the loser would take a polar plunge.

Mary Hite, an owner of the Korner Beehive, said that her business is heavily affiliated with the Navy; all of the business partners served with the Navy at some point.

The Embarras is more affiliated with the Army. Ryan Garrett, the owner of the bar, said that most of his family has been in the Army, although a few of his family members were in the Navy as well. He’s received a lot of help building his business from fellow Army veterans.

The losers of the bet, Korner Beehive business owners, took the polar plunge after the navy lost the game. They set up a tank of water outside of the bar at the start of the football game. Participants could purchase buckets of ice to toss in the water for an extra cold polar plunge.

The two businesses maintain a friendly rivalry through the Army-Navy football game each December.

“While we’re poking fun at each other. Let’s do something for someone else as a fundraiser,” said Jerry Jenks, co-owner of the Korner Beehive.

Hite said last year, she and Garrett started with the bet that the winner would get a free meal from the losing business.

Since then, the two businesses decided to expand on the idea.

“Of course, I lost [last year], so I wanted to raise the stakes a little bit, make an event out of it for everyone,” said Garret.

The two businesses managed to gather over $2,500 for Nick Maxedon and his family through donations and the squares game. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2879 also contributed $250 and also a year-long membership.

Garret said that they have plans to keep doing the event annually from now on.

“We’re going to do it every year and keep growing it,” said Garrett.

Hite said, “We love our military family and veteran-owned businesses coming together. That is what we’re all about.”

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