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Restaurant to raise money for military families

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

The sacrifices made by local members of the U.S. military, and their families, will be spotlighted Monday during a fund-raiser held at the Truett's Grill in McDonough, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Billy Thompson, the general manager of the Truett's Grill, located at 1785 Jonesboro Road, said he is looking forward to the opportunity to show his support for military troops.

"We had a lot of requests to do something for people who are serving our country," said Thompson. "After hearing about this program, I just wanted to be a part of it."

In addition to donations from the public, 10 percent of Monday night's sales will go toward the families of three area soldiers who were wounded or killed in action.

"We're hoping it will be our biggest night ever, just to show honor to those families," said Thompson.

One of the families, according to Thompson, is that of Georgia Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class John Beale, of McDonough, who was killed in June in Afghanistan. The two other soldiers being honored are Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Allen of Loganville, and Army Sgt. David Battle of Fayetteville, according to Chick-fil-A Business Consultant David Pruiksma.

Pruiksma, who is spearheading the fund-raiser, said Allen and Battle have endured numerous hardships after sustaining serious injuries while on active duty in the Middle East.

Allen was injured in Afghanistan earlier this year, said Pruiksma, and Battle was injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Sgt. Allen is currently at a Tampa (Fla.) hospital, receiving treatment for a traumatic brain injury on July 8," said Pruiksma. "Sgt. Battle is a triple amputee who lost both legs and an arm from an IED [improvised explosive device] on Dec. 18, 2007. He just underwent his 98th surgery."

Pruiksma is hopeful that Monday's benefit will generate a significant amount of money for the soldiers' families.

"We have done several of these [events] for wounded military personnel in Georgia," said Pruiksma. "They have been some of the most successful nights we have had."

He said Chick-fil-A sponsored a similar event at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Loganville on Veterans Day, for Allen and his family. Pruiksma said that event brought in more than $7,000 in donations, and more than double a typical night's sales at the Loganville location.

Previous fund-raisers at Chick-fil-A and Truett's Grill restaurants for military personnel and their families have generated as much as $8,000, Pruiksma said.

"We encourage our operators to be involved with their community, and this is one way we can give back," he said.