MARION, North Carolina (WLOS) — Whether you’re from a small town or the big city, the holidays can be bittersweet for some families.
It might help to get away for a while.
“You know it takes some of the pressure of the holiday hubbub away,” said Deanna Sartor. “And it just warms our hearts to know that America’s behind us,” she stressed.
The Gold Star family came here from Colorado Springs last week, spending several days here in the mountains.
Businesses like Bruce’s Fabulous Foods and Big League Camp embraced them during their stay, providing food and lodging.
Their trip was sponsored by a group led by Larry Burgin, with support from the Green Beret Foundation.
“And to be able to do something for this family, to somehow bring them peace at Christmas, and to have these children have a wonderful event, I’m just very proud of my hometown,” Burgin said.
“They want to show us what this community is about and what North Carolina has to offer,” Deanna told us.
Deanna’s husband, Sgt. Major Ryan Sartor, was killed during combat in Afghanistan in July of 2019.
“He was extraordinary, you know. He died doing something he loved and something he believed in. He didn’t need to be out doing combat anymore, but he chose to be a leader for his men,” Deanna said.
Extraordinary in every way, especially to his children.
“He loved family and he loved kids, and being with his kids,” she says.
The trip to Western North Carolina gave them a chance to enjoy the outdoors, as they did with their dad.
“And they were always in the mountains camping, and hiking, and hunting. So it’s a very good thing for them to get back to that,” said Deanna.
“You know we can’t replace their father,” Burgin says. “But maybe we can somehow step in and do something he would have done for him if he were here.”
Burgin also arranged for the family to travel to Atlanta and spend Christmas with Deanna’s brother.
“Of course it’s especially hard to see everyone doing family activities and sending out cards; you know families,” Sartor said. “We’re happy for them but it’s painful to know what we’ve lost and what we’re missing around the holidays.”
There are some wounds that time can’t begin to heal, but a small town with a big heart gave the Sartors a welcome feeling during an emotional time.
“It’s important for us. It reminds the kids that America remembers their dad and what he sacrificed,” Deanna said.
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