Disabled Vets Get One-Of-A-Kind Freedom Canes
FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) —
"The challenges and the sacrifices that they faced are immense compared to what we had to do to create something of nice quality," Dennis Ivans, with the Sequoia Wood Turners, said.
For Madera veteran Martin Medellin, challenges are nothing new.
"I was in the Battle of the Bulge, Battle of the Bulge in France, 1944," Medellin said.
Now the challenge is getting around.
"Help me walk, yes I really need it," Medellin said holding the cane he'd just received.
Medellin is one among dozens of Valley veterans who received one of the hand-carved eagle-headed canes Thursday.
"Out of about 70 canes, there will be no two that are exactly alike," Ivans said.
It's a labor of love for the carvers and turners who make them.
Johnnie Grigsby has been carving since he was 9.
"At that time, there wasn't very much money, so I made all the toys that we played with," Grigsby said.
Now he's 97. And he spends every Saturday carving canes for the veterans.
"The veterans did so much for us. So it's just a small token to me for us to give them a cane," he said.
Each one of the canes is turned and carved specifically for the veteran it's made for.
They take that veteran's measurements and make it according to that.
And if you think they're just pieces of wood you can get at any Walgreens, think again.
Just one cane would run several hundred dollars and they take a lot of time to make.
"About eight hours to carve one head," Grigsby said.
It's tireless work that's not lost on those who can appreciate it most.
"Stuff like this, it may seem like a small symbol, but it means a lot. It's heartfelt gratitude that I have for these guys," Sal Gallegos, who received a cane Thursday, said.
"The cane, it's a treasure, something to hand down to my children," David Merritt, who also received a cane, said.
Members of the "Central California Wood Carver's Association" and "Sequoia Wood Turners" made the canes.
The wood is donated as well as all the labor.