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Idaho Falls art gallery honoring family of local soldier killed in Afghanistan

Idaho Falls

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Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls Art Council’s Gallery Walk 2019 is coming to an end on Thursday evening. One of the participating galleries is using this opportunity to honor the sacrifice, service and family of a fallen local soldier.

Eagle Rock Gallery is gathering together officials from state and local government, members of the Military Affairs Committee and musicians to celebrate the men and women who choose to serve in our nation’s military. The event is called the “God Bless America Fundraiser” and will feature food, music and fun for the whole Idaho Falls community.

The event will also feature a presentation honoring the Bruce Ard family. The Ards’ son, Dustin, died in Afghanistan this year.

RELATED | Green Beret from eastern Idaho killed in Afghanistan

Kathi Cheyenne Jensen, who co-owns Eagle Rock Gallery with her husband, Gary, told EastIdahoNews.com that they wanted to give the east Idaho community a chance to show their appreciation for the Ards and the sacrifices made by those who serve in the armed forces and their families.

“I’m a vet, and so is my husband,” Jensen said. “We wanted to do something to raise money for our veterans in a substantial way for our area.”

The gallery has been holding raffles coinciding with Gallery Walk 2019 events all summer long, donating the proceeds from ticket sales to the Military Affairs Committee. The gallery has also been selling a special edition print titled “God Bless America” throughout the summer, donating half the money made from sales of the print to the veterans through the Military Affairs Committee.

Kathi Jensen and the God Bless America Print | Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com

The gallery and The Bank of Commerce have donated a copy of the “God Bless America” print that will serve as the heart of Thursday’s event. The gallery will present the print to a member of the Bruce Ard family.

“They asked us to find somebody, and the first person who came to my mind was Bruce Ard and his family, after losing their son Dustin,” Jensen said.

Representation from Sen. Jim Risch will be in attendance, and Sen. Mike Crapo’s office donated a flag that flew over the White House, which will also be presented to the Ard family.

Former Idaho Falls City Councilman Ed Marohn will speak, and an Idaho state legislator will present the Ard family with an Idaho state flag. The event will also feature musical performances from the Roundabout Bass Band and 13-year-old singer Paige Stembridge.

Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com

Jensen said the event came together quickly with help from the Military Affairs Committee.

“Because we meet with the Military Affairs Committee and they know we’re doing this fundraiser, word had gotten out,” said Jensen. “Pretty soon, Sen. Risch’s office wanted to come be a part of it.”

The event snowballed from there, with other national, state and local officials offering to be part of the “God Bless America” event. Jensen hopes the Idaho Falls community will come out to support the Ards and believes many people desire to thank the family for the sacrifice they’ve made to preserve the American way of life.

“I think the community wants to express their appreciation to a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said. “We didn’t necessarily think it would get this big, but people have expressed a desire to want to come and participate. And how do you say no?”

RELATED: Charity pays off home of local Green Beret killed in Afghanistan

Eagle Rock Gallery is at 804 Pancheri Drive in Idaho Falls. Gallery Walk runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, with the “God Bless America” presentation set for 7 p.m. Visit the gallery’s Facebook page for more information.

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