Nine-year-old Brendan Haas started with an idea, a toy soldier, and a Facebook page. His goal was to trade his toy soldier for a trip to Disney World, not for himself but for the family of a fallen service member.
“We heard about the guy, how he traded a red paper clip up until he got a house and we wanted to do something,” says the Kingston, Mass native. Armed with his soldier and his “A Soldier for a Soldier Facebook page, Brendan began trading items and growing his network until it spanned the nation and he reached his goal: tickets to Disney World, airfare, a stay at the Disney Villas and almost $900 in Disney gift certificates. All that remained was to choose a winner.
“People just posted that they had lost some family members in the war and we put them in the raffle.”
Brendan placed the names in a hat and randomly drew Liberty Hope Steele, the now-two-year-old daughter of 1st Lt. Timothy Steele, U.S. Army. Lt. Steele, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., lost his life 23 August 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.
On Memorial Day Brendan traveled to the Steele home to deliver the good news.
“I think it would make them a lot happier,” Brendan said.