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'Canyon Heroes' group organized to help veterans

| Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 7:36 p.m.

Ever since the Vietnam War, Margery Hermann said she has always wanted to do something to help veterans, but she did not realize what she could do.

Until last year, when a rafting trip on the Colorado River, in Arizona, and a chance meeting with a group of river guides, finally gave her the answer.

She learned about other groups that offer rafting trips in an effort to provide a healing experience for veterans and their family members.

“After talking to these guys, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. This is it,” she said about forming a group to help local veterans in the same way.

After she returned from the trip, she said she immediately began talking to people in Ligonier about creating an opportunity to area help veterans. With help from friends and business associates in Ligonier, Hermann established Canyon Heroes, formed to provide rafting trips for wounded and disabled U.S. military veterans.

To date the group has $3,600 in grant plegdes from community members and is currently seeking tax exempt status so they can recieve the grants and apply for additional funding for the project. They are working with state legislators to obtain the exempt status before the Dec. 21, 2012 deadline.

In an effort to promote public awareness of the group's efforts, the next board meeting 1 p.m. Sunday at Ligonier Town Hall is open to the public. The speaker for the meeting is Iraq War veteran John Novotnok and therapist Jim Fiesta.

The pair participated in a pilot canyon trip organized by Hermann and Hatch River Expeditions of Marble Canyon, Ariz., who donated the cost of a 12-day rafting trip earlier this year.

Novotnok and Fiesta will talk about the benefits of the program and the potential for its success in the future.

Margery Hermann said has been rafting on the Colorado River since 1986.

During the past 25 years, she said she has even several rafting trips for various groups in Ligonier.

Hermann is also no stranger to working with non-profit groups in the area. She helped organize the Hollowtree Players in 1967 and helped initiate Meals on Wheels in the area as well as the Valley Players.

“You could say I am big on fundraising projects in the community,” she said. “When the dinosaur was destroyed in Mellon Park, I sold chocolate dinosaurs and raised $7,500 to replace it.”

For more information about Canyon Heroes, contact Hermann at margery

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or