Local Non-Profit Grants Wish Of Unsuspecting Soldier

Saturday, December 6th 2014, 12:24 am
By: News On 6

Soldier's Wish, a local non-profit that grants wishes for soldiers and their families all over the country, hosted its annual fundraising Steak and Cigar dinner.

True to their name, they granted some wishes for some very deserving soldiers. Friday night retired staff sergeant William Kleinedler received a $10,000 check from Soldier's Wish.

The goal is to help the army veteran from Massachusetts open his own art studio to help soldiers recovering from mental and physical wounds.

“Art is my life, I think. It's really the inner core. It's beauty of just who I am," Kleinedler said.

Kleinedler was serving overseas in Iraq when the truck he was driving was hit with an IED, causing severe burns over most of his body and killing three others on board.

He said, ultimately, it was his art that helped him through the long recovery process.

"I was able to hold that pencil and start drawing, well, this piece is what came out. This tree, it came out of that and that's the reason I call it inspiration, because this is the first piece coming out of that you know, that bad time," Kleinedler said.

It's his passion for art and courageous recovery that brought him to the Tulsa Soldier's Wish dinner.

"His rehabilitation was art, and this guy is an amazing artist, and what he wants to do is create an art studio that he can bring veterans in and allow them to start their healing process as well, and so tonight we're going to grant the wish of achieving that goal," said Executive Director, Kevin McDougal.

Kleinedler went to the dinner thinking he was just going to show off his art, but instead he was pulled up on stage for one of the biggest honors of the night.

It's those kinds of surprises that McDougal does this for.

“I do it because I love our veterans and, for me, I get the greatest reward. I get to do this every day of the year, to grant a wish, and when you see the joy, the happiness, the thankfulness of our veterans, it makes it all worth it," he said.

It's not only worth it for McDougal, but for soldiers like Kleinedler who, even through the recovery process, hope to help others.

"If I can do that through my artwork for people, if I can move people forward, it's just become much greater than me," Kleinedler said.

If you would like to see more of Kleinedler's artwork you can find in here.

You can also nominate a soldier to have their wish granted online.