When they shake your hand, their grips are firm, and they look you in the eye. Yes sir or no ma’am are effortless expressions.
It’s as if the brother and sister duo, members of Gordon Central’s JROTC program, are already well-disciplined officers in the military. So it, perhaps, comes as little surprise that the aspiring soldiers are already hard at work helping others.
On Nov. 10, Sam, Timber and fellow members of the JROTC program will host a competition with other local JROTC groups to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. The project helps injured soldiers transition back into society following their military service. This competition, dubbed the Wounded Warrior Challenge, is not exactly bobbing for apples.
Teams will compete in events like rope-bridge, rucksack run, tire flip and water can carry, which gauge not only physical fitness but mental aptitude.
All proceeds will go to the Wound Warrior Project.
“It started as a thought over the summer,” said Sam, 16, a cadet major and the starting center on Gordon Central’s football team. “Me and my sister thought we could help out these wounded veterans.”
Sam might only be a high school junior, but his sights are already set on pursuing a career in the Army like so many men in his family have.
In a couple of years, he hopes for an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
For him, helping the Wounded Warrior Project is part of his duty.
“You know (war injuries) can happen to anyone,” he said. “It’s good to know that there will be funds there for them.”
Timber, 15, is a cadet captain and member of the cross country team at Gordon Central. She plans on attending the University of Tennessee, while continuing her involvement in ROTC, to be an Army doctor. Like her brother, Timber has a heart for those injured in war, and helping Wounded Warrior was just a natural inclination for her.
“Just realizing what they go through every day and coming back with mental illnesses and things like that puts in perspective what they really do,” she said. “I feel like we should help them any way we can.”
Sam and Timber’s parents are both educators, which might explain their kids’ success in school.
It was their uncles and grandfathers, along with the Wounded Warriors, that inspired their desire to join the military.
“Just seeing how they, especially the officers, carry themselves and the command they respect from their men,” Sam said. “I had uncles and grandfathers that had officer positions, and they were always confident, knew how to lead and everybody respected them. … The sacrifices these men make, I want to be just like them.”
Their mother, Elizabeth Anderson, is principal of Sonoraville Elementary. She said her proudest moment was when the kids got approval from the board of education for the fundraiser.
Seeing their understanding of the sacrifice veterans make made the whole project worth it for her.
“Timber said it could be her brother one day or a classmate that might need help,” she said. “They’re thinking of not only the soldiers now, but maybe a classmate or their uncle who is out serving now.”
The event will begin at 9 a.m. on Nov. 10, and the public is invited. Members of the Gordon Central JROTC will also be asking for sponsorships for the fundraiser.
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