UNION COUNTY, N.C. - A Union County family is preparing to watch their son celebrate the biggest moment of his life -- graduating from U.S. Marine Corps boot camp.
But they almost didn't get the chance to go -- until a South Carolina-based nonprofit stepped in to help.
Byron and Susan Thrailkill said it caught them off-guard when their son said he wanted to join the U.S. Marines.
“It was a shock because he had never said anything to us, but he had been talking to one of his best friends who joined,” Susan Thraikill said.
Now their only child is a week and a half away from graduating boot camp at Parris Island, and they said they had never been more proud of him -- or more determined to watch him graduate.
“We would’ve gone to Goodwill and paid $10 for bicycles to get down there if we had to,” Byron Thraikill said.
But both Thrailkills are disabled and can't afford the trip.
Byron Thraikill said he saw a post on Facebook that piqued his interest.
A group called Marines and Mickey claimed to help families watch their children graduate. They wrote to the organization and explained their situation.
“(They) called us back the next day and said the board's approved you for lodging and fuel to get down there and back,” Bryon Thraikill said.
One of the organizers founders, Justin Keown, said he was happy to help the family.
“They were definitely surprised and grateful,” Keown said.
Keown started the charity to give back to those prepared to serve their country and to make sure every Marine could have family members watch them graduate.
“It's a huge accomplishment, Keown said. “(It’s) a huge milestone for these guys, so we definitely want to help out as many people as we can.”
The family calls it a blessing from God and said they can't wait to see their son graduate on June 6.
“This organization that is helping us get there and other families,” Susan Thraikill said. “It's just fantastic.”
Marines and Mickey has funded about 13 families.
The group is on Facebook and is in the process of launching a website.
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