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'The sky's the limit': Black Diamond RV donates camper for SI Made Expo

  • From left, Dale Fowler, Gail Barger, Karen Mullins, Jake Rushing, and Jason Powell gather for a photo of the camper donated by Black Diamond RV to be raffled as part of the SI Made Expo to benefit Honor Flight 006.

    From left, Dale Fowler, Gail Barger, Karen Mullins, Jake Rushing, and Jason Powell gather for a photo of the camper donated by Black Diamond RV to be raffled as part of the SI Made Expo to benefit Honor Flight 006.
    Holly Kee photo

 
BY HOLLY KEE
Staff Writer
hkee@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 5/15/2019 5:18 AM

MARION -- The Honor Flight of Southern Illinois project got a huge kick-start for the next flight Monday morning.

Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) announced that Marion's Black Diamond RV Superstore has donated a camper trailer to be raffled through the Southern Illinois Made Expo coming up July 27-28 at the Marion Pavilion.

"Why not?" said Jake Rushing, the outside sales manager for Black Diamond RV. "Why not give back to the community that has been so good (to us)?"

"We will actually start the ticket sales at the Honor Flight," said Fowler.

The welcome home festivities for Honor Flight 005 begin at 5 p.m. this afternoon at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois.

Fowler said the Expo raised just under $30,000 last year for the event. "The sky's the limit this year," he said.

Fowler said that Black Diamond is the official title sponsor of the event that he expects to be even bigger than last year.

"We had over 2,000 people come through the doors last year," he said. The senator added that the set up at the pavilion has been reconfigured to make space for additional vendors.

"We have space for 165 vendors," he said.

Along with partnering with the Regional Chambers of Commerce, Fowler said the addition of Jason Powell to the Expo team "is an amazing partnership."

"He's passionate about Southern Illinois and growing the economy," he said.

Powell said he was "amazed" last year as he walked through the Expo.

"I thought I knew industry well here," he said. "I was amazed that I didn't realize how many businesses were producing goods here in Southern Illinois."

Powell said he stepped up to volunteer for this year's event because he wanted to help with its growth.

"Anytime you can come under one roof and engage with 160-plus businesses in Southern Illinois, it's a win," he said.

Fowler agreed.

"Promoting Southern Illinois business and small businesses is one of the most important things we can do," he said. "It's exciting to promote business and help our veterans at the same time."

The camper is a Wildwood FSX and is valued at $21,750. The drawing will be held at 4 p.m. on July 28 at the Expo.

Raffle tickets are available on the website at www.simade.org as well as the Facebook page. That page will also announce upcoming pop-up locations where the camper will be on display and tickets sold.

Raffle tickets are $5 each, three for $10, 10 for $20, 30 for $50, and 100 for $100. All proceeds go directly to Honor Flight of Southern Illinois.