Bowlus native running to help families be near their injured soldiers

Pictured are (left to right, standing first): myself, Randy Kitzmiller, Richard Blair, Dan LaVergne, (kneeling left to right) Steve Smith and Heidi Blair.  Not pictured is Joe Parks.

Pictured are (left to right, standing first): Paul Zwilling, Randy Kitzmiller, Richard Blair, Dan LaVergne, (kneeling left to right) Steve Smith and Heidi Blair. Not pictured is Joe Parks.

Reservist Maj. Paul Zwilling, a native of Bowlus, is part of a seven-person team that will run from Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, to the Grenta, Manitoba, Canada border crossing and back. The 180-mile run takes place June 14 – 16.

Zwilling said the run is to raise money for the Fisher House Foundation, whose mission is to provide a “home away from home” for families of soldiers receiving medical care at major military and Veterans Administration (VA) medical centers in the U.S. and Germany. Zwilling said it was kind of like “Ronald McDonald’s House” for the families of injured soldiers.

During his own tenure as a military policeman in Germany, Zwilling had his first exposure to Fisher House. “Every day we had airplanes land with soldiers and Marines that were injured in combat,” he said. “As an MP, we provided military escort from Army base to hospital.”

While assigned in Germany, his wife worked at the hospital as a registered nurse. “This foundation built a home there and this home was always being used, because that hospital in Germany was the first major hospital that offered all the various medical care services for combat-related injuries coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Zwilling. “When that home got built in Landstuhl (where the hospital was), families were able to come, and while it’s not a cheap ticket to Germany, they didn’t have to pay for housing. They could be by their loved one and help them cope with whatever they had to.”

Zwilling is the son of Virgil and Jean Zwilling and was raised on a farm in Bowlus. His parents now live four or five miles from the Rice-Mississippi bridge.

He served on active duty for seven years and as a U.S. Air Force Reservist for the past six years. Zwilling has been stationed in Georgia, Germany, Spain, Afghanistan and at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, where he currently lives.

“My parents now reside on County Road 21 four or five miles from the Rice-Mississippi Bridge.  I served on active duty for seven years and as a USAF Reservist for the last six years.  I’ve been stationed in Georgia, Germany, Spain, Afghanistan and Grand Forks AFB, ND.

“This foundation is important to me because it supports active duty members and veterans and their families alike when the active duty member/veteran need support the most: during time of a major medical issue.  This foundation allows families to be at their loved one’s side, because a family’s love is good medicine,” he said.

The team’s goal is to raise $5,000. As of May 21, they had raised $1,275. “If we can reach that goal prior to the run itself, we will increase it from there,” said Zwilling.

To donate, visit the team’s donation page at www.teamfisherhouse.org/site/TR/CommunityFundraiser/General?px=1005763&pg=personal&fr_id=1070 Or on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Run-to-the-Border/485820234817192

Visiting the Web page is the only way to donate.

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