by Colby Robertson
WAUSAU (WAOW) -- Volunteers certainly make their mark on Central Wisconsin. At Newsline 9, we're proud to join in an effort to recognize some of them. Over the course of a year you'll meet a dozen people honored with a Jefferson Award.
Established in 1972 it recognizes businesses, schools and individuals.who answer the call to action for volunteers. Tonight, we introduce you to Allen Grell, a Stratford man who volunteers his time driving disabled American veterans to their medical appointments hundreds of miles away.
Allen Grell loves to be behind the wheel and on the road. He says, "I enjoy what I do. I tell people this is what I do for a living even though we don't get paid."
In two and a half years, he's driven more than 84,000 miles and clocked more than 2,100 volunteer hours driving area veterans to their medical appointments.
Allen Grell says, "Most of them are Korea, Vietnam and we do drive a lot of homeless, surprisingly there are a lot of homeless in Wausau and Point. They have no way to get there."
As a volunteer at North Central Health Care in Wausau, Grell spends his days driving the center's Disabled American Veterans van in Marathon, Portage and Wood county.
Transportation supervisor Jenny McKenzie says, "Al is a true patriot. He fought for our country in Vietnam and now as a retired soldier he's driving our veterans to and from our appointments."
McKenzie says she nominated Al for this months Jefferson Award for his selflessness and dedication to helping Veterans.
Grell says, "It's an honor, but I think there's some that are better, that deserve it. It's the first time I've gotten an award like this so I guess it's an honor."
It's a responsibility Grell takes very seriously and despite the long drives and full days he says helping others is time well spent and very rewarding at the end of the day.
Grell says, "It's just satisfaction and when a veteran says thank you to you, you know he means it, so it means a lot to me too so I enjoy what I do."
North Central Health Care has about 20-25 volunteer drivers. Five days a week, they drive to Madison, Milwaukee, Tomah and Appleton. Allen Grell and our other winners remain eligible to move on to the national competition.
Newsline 9 Jefferson Awards is presented by Marshfield Clinic.
Online Reporter: Colby Robertson