March 2014 Jefferson Award: Kirk Rodman - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

March 2014 Jefferson Award: Kirk Rodman


There's a special place in Wisconsin to honor military veterans.

The Highground in Neillsville is the only veterans memorial in the country open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, thanks to volunteers.

Kirk Rodman is the man responsible for organizing that and for his efforts, he is honored has our March 2014 Jefferson Award winner.

It's early March and the Highground just outside of Neillsville remains covered in a blanket of snow, but this place never sleeps.

“We are open 24/7. You can come out here at two in the morning and there are people out at that point. This is a phenomenal place,” Rodman said.

Its breathtaking views and moving tributes honor those who lost their lives while serving their country and the sacrifices made by those who served and survived.

“The Highground is the only manned veterans park in the United States. Our mission is to teach and heal and you can't do that unless you have people here who are qualified to talk to people."

The non-profit place receives no on-going state or federal money, so hundreds of people are needed to pitch in and help out.

Leading them is Rodman, who started taking part on the park's day-to-day operations 15 years ago, after retiring from the corporate world.

“I thought maybe I can help some people along the way. You use your head and you follow your heart and hopefully you help some people along the way."

As volunteer general manager, Rodman is proud of the 120,000 visitors who stop by this park each year to check out the displays in the learning center and expanding lineup of memorials.

He will turn 80 within the next month and has no plans to slow down.

His latest fundraising efforts focus on a Persian Gulf tribute called the Bootprint and another dedicated to the military working dogs.

“If you have that job to go to or that thing that you do to help people then you continue to grow and I think if you're not growing, you're dying," said Rodman.

If you know someone deserving of a Jefferson Award, you can fill out a nomination form by clicking here.

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