The people of southern Illinois once again showed their support of veterans by raising $51,855 for the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois.

The money came from donations and exhibitor fees at the Southern Illinois Made Expo, which took place July 27 and 28 in Marion.

The event was created by Illinois State Sen. Dale Fowler in partnership with 13 southern Illinois chambers of commerce.

Fowler presented the check to the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois organization at the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois Reunion at the Pavilion in Marion on Aug. 24.

"Our region is home to many treasurers, but nothing beats our veterans and the generous people who support our heroes," Fowler said. "I want to thank everyone who offered their support to our veterans so they can go on an honor flight, an incredible experience they'll remember the rest of their lives. Veterans are the backbone of our great country. While we can never repay them for their service and sacrifice, offering them this gift is a great way we can show our thanks."

The Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois provides veterans a no cost trip to Washington, D.C. to see the monuments constructed in their honor.

This year's Southern Illinois Made Expo hosted 120 businesses and organizations from across the region, giving them the opportunity to showcase their products, services, food, art and destinations all made and available in southern Illinois. A record crowd of more than 3500 people attended.

"We have so many creative minds and original products that are impacting people around the globe, all made right in our backyard," said Karen Mullins, executive director of the Marion Chamber of Commerce. "To be able to showcase our talents and what we're making to thousands of people will only help our region, both in economic impact and jobs. The event is also a reminder that we have some of the most generous, friendly, and hardworking people anywhere. To also raise money for area veterans only adds to what makes this event special."

This was the second year for the Southern Illinois Made Expo. Next year's event is scheduled for Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27 at the Pavilion in Marion.

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