Ashley Furniture celebrated Veterans Day in style Saturday.
A large crowd of veterans and local residents gathered at the Bellefontaine store for an emotional presentation.
Store owners David and Ben Monnin welcomed Mary Tallouzi of the Wounded Warrior Project.
The event started with a Color Guard presentation in front of the store.
(Pictured, left to right: David Monnin, Mary Tallouzi, and veteran Ben Monnin.)
The Monnins presented a $10,000 check to the Wounded Warrior Project. The funds were raised through personal donations and portions of home furnishings sales this summer and fall at the South Main Street store.
Ashley Furniture honored veterans all summer and fall during the fundraising drive. Hundreds of veterans visited the stores and had their pictures taken for Ashley's "Wall of Honor" in the center of the store. Each veteran was given a commemorative "Challenge Coin" from Ashley Furniture.
Tallouzi gave an emotional speech centered around her late son, Daniel, who was wounded in September 2006 while serving in Iraq.
The Army staff sergeant from New Mexico was wounded from a mortar attack. Shrapnel the size of a quarter crossed both hemispheres of Daniel's brain and lodged in the center. He endured more than two years of recovering in hospitals before returning home and eventually passing away on February 28, 2009.
During those years Mary served as Daniel's caregiver, a 24-hour-a-day job she performed with great love.
Mary said she lost her youngest son, but she met so many other veterans and families dealing with combat-related injuries. Tallouzi said she has become "mom" to hundreds of other servicemen and servicewomen over the last few years. She closed by saying we should always take time to remember those that give everything to protect our freedoms in America.
Tallouzi has had family members serve since the Korean War.
Ashley Furniture had a free pancake breakfast for the veterans.
The ceremony concluded with a drawing honoring our vets. The store gave away $4,000 in free furniture to veterans. Gilbert Misplon won the grand prize worth $2,500. Mike Mahaffey won $1,000 worth of free merchandise and Fred Meek won the $500 prize.
Listen to Tallouzi recap the event and reflect on what Veterans Day means to her.
Listen to Ashley Furniture Marketing Coordinator Cindy Titus discuss the third annual Wounded Warrior event and explain why the company is committed to veterans.
The Monnins held similar Veterans Day ceremonies at their Marion and Mansfield stores Saturday afternoon.
Over the last three years, Ashley Furniture has donated nearly $60,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Veterans Day is Sunday, but many government offices will be closed Monday to observe the holiday.