BROWNSBURG — Because of his work with Connection Pointe Church’s Military Support Group, Gary Strader has been recognized by Gov. Mike Pence as a Distinguished Hoosier.
The group, which was founded in 2003, aims to honor the men and women who fight for the nation’s freedom.
Brenda Leive, one of the founding members of the group, said the goal is to make sure the soldiers know people are thinking of them.
“We do three major projects a year — big ones,” she said. “Then we send cards, letters, and we just work as hard as we can to show our appreciation to the troops.”
At a soup dinner for the group on Saturday night, Sgt. Major Mike Lucas, who has been in the U.S. Army for 38 years and has witnessed the kindness the group bestows on troops firsthand, addressed members before surprising Strader with the award.
“It is very humbling and very rewarding to be overseas, away from your families, and basically out of the clear blue, get one of these wonderful little flat rate boxes from the states and that glorious little sticker that says, ‘Connection Pointe Christian Church,’” Lucas said. “You all have blessed me and my soldiers on at least two deployments.”
Lucas said the work this group does isn’t for the recognition.
“These great Americans just want to reach out to people somewhere,” he said. “They just want to share a little bit of God’s blessing and their personal love of people they don’t even know.”
He said one person in particular has gone above in beyond in honoring America’s soldiers.
“There is one among you that uses his love and his passion and his skills in various different ways,” he said. “I have seen some of the video products this man has done that are just awesome. They tug at your heart, they make you stand up strong and make you puff out your chest and make you want to put your arms around that young man or that young woman in uniform the next time you see them.”