Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando mother with charity for troops becomes finalist for Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame

HERNANDO BEACH — Dee Mills was ambushed Tuesday morning at VFW Post 9263, and she didn't mind one bit.

The founder of Lea's Prayers and Postage, a two-year fundraiser to raise money for sending packages to military personnel overseas, had just accepted a $250 check from the post and its auxiliary to benefit her cause.

"This is a rare moment," said the 53-year-old Masaryktown Gold Star mother. "A hundred percent will go to pay postage."

Through the door burst a 10-foot-tall pink Energizer bunny of TV ad fame, tenaciously beating his drum and backpacking a mock heroic-sized Energizer battery.

Accompanying him was Katie Zeidman, a public relations specialist for the company, who announced that Mills is one of 10 national finalists in the company's Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame.

Mills' hands flew to her cheeks. She gasped, "Oh, no," followed by a few sniffles, then, "Oh, wow!"

Urged to speak, Mills began, "I don't know that I deserve this."

An audience of friends, star mothers and veterans chorused with enthusiasm, "Oh, yes."

Mills launched Lea's Prayers and Postage soon after her son, Marine Sgt. Lea Mills, then 21, was killed in action in Iraq in April 2006. She has raised more than $80,000 to ensure that servicemen and women will know, through receipt of edible treats, personal care items and messages, that they are not forgotten and that their service is appreciated.

Every penny Mills raises goes to postage. She prays over every package that passes through her hands.

She handles parcels collected and packed by such Hernando organizations as Treat the Troops, Gifts from Home, Friends from Campers Holiday, also a military support group in Brookridge.

"You are all a part of this," Mills told the crowd. "I receive this honor for you guys." She high-fived the bunny as he raised his drumstick.

With a hug to Janice Zabel, a Hernando Beach Blue Star mother who nominated Mills for the award, Mills asked, "How could you have kept this a secret from me?" No words followed, just a clinching, lingering hug with moist eyes.

A Gold Star mother is one who has lost a son or daughter in active duty. A Blue Star mother is one who has an offspring in the military.

In her nomination essay, Zabel wrote, "Dee energizes our troops every time a package is received, for they know they are not forgotten. Dee runs from one meeting to the next. She keeps going, going just like the bunny, banging her drum, making sure our troops are not forgotten, making sure a package gets out, until they all come home and are able to bang their own drums for freedom."

Zabel noted Mills' organizing of fundraising dances, walks, runs, bicycle poker races and talks "to any organization that will have her."

It's not over yet. From Friday through Aug. 7, people can go to www.energizer.com/halloffame to vote their favorite among the 10 finalists, who were gleaned by a company panel from 100 semifinalists.

The top vote getter will receive $10,000 plus a $5,000 donation to his or her favorite charity. If she succeeds, Mills said, "Well, you know what my charity is."

Visitors may cast one vote every day for the duration of the contest. The winner is to be announced in September.

Every vote also triggers a donation from Energizer to the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which funds sports programs and buys equipment for youth groups and schools. Cal Ripken Jr. was the first Energizer Hall of Fame winner four years ago. The retired player of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team took the field more than 2,000 times without missing a game.

The Keep Going Hall of Fame "celebrates people whose actions best exemplify the qualities of the Energizer Bunny, such as perseverance, determination and a never-quit attitude," states a company news release.

Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]

Fast facts

Where to vote

To vote for Dee Mills of Masaryktown and help her win $15,000, visit www.energizer.com/halloffame. Voting continues through Aug. 7.

Hernando mother with charity for troops becomes finalist for Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame 06/23/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 9:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Paraglider electrocuted in St. Pete after landing in power lines

    Accidents

    ST. PETERSBURG — A paraglider was injured Tuesday morning after falling into power lines and being electrocuted.

    A parachutist became entangled in power lines near 1st Avenue N and 60th Street N on Sept. 26, 2017. [10News WTSP]
  2. Halloween season is upon us: Our top 5 wild and mild haunted attractions

    Events

    It has also ballooned in cost as haunts get more elaborate, with some events putting guests inside their favorite horror films and TV shows. Not-so-spooky attractions for the littlest ones have taken a big leap in quality as well — way beyond the standard pumpkin patch and trick-or-treat stations.

    Scare actors roam the grounds of Busch Gardens in Tampa during their annual Howl-O-Scream Halloween themed event. Howl-O-Scream continues on select nights through Oct. 29 at the Tampa theme park. Howl-O-Scream is a separate ticket event and has seven haunted houses, five scare zones and the chance to ride coasters in the dark. [Friday, September 22, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  3. Equifax CEO Richard Smith steps down amid hacking scandal

    Personal Finance

    The chief executive of Equifax, the troubled credit reporting agency that suffered a massive data breach that affected as many as 143 million people, will retire, effective Tuesday, according to a statement by the company.

    Richard Smith, chief executive of Equifax, the troubled credit reporting agency that suffered a massive data breach that affected as many as 143 million people, will reportedly retire effective Tuesday.
[File photo: Joey Ivansco/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP]
  4. NCAA coaches among 10 charged with fraud and corruption

    College

    NEW YORK — Four college basketball coaches were among those facing federal charges Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said.

    These file photos show, assistant basketball coaches Tony Bland, left, Chuck Person, center, and Lamont Richardson.  The three, along with assistant coach Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, were identified in court papers and are among 10 people facing federal charges in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. [AP photo]
  5. Pinellas: It could cost $15 million to remove storm debris

    Blogs

    CLEARWATER--The removal and processing of debris from Hurricane Irma in unincorporated Pinellas County could cost an estimated $15 million.

    Pinellas County estimates it will take at least four weeks to remove debris from unincorporated areas.