GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Vinny “The Army Guy” Retzlaff attends East High School in Green Bay and has been a staple in the community for years.
“My costume started off as a Halloween costume and I went trick-or-treating, and a guy saw me and invited me to a Golden Corral event for Veterans Day,” said Retzlaff.
That was when he was 10 or 11 years old.
Little did Retzlaff or his family know at that time, what an impact that costume would have on his future. His younger sister was diagnosed with a rare condition that required part of her brain to be removed. After the surgery, lengthy physical therapy was needed to help her gain her mobility and comprehension back.
“When his sister got sick, and we saw how the community came together for her benefit, it was so humbling,” said Abby Retzlaff, Retzlaff’s mother. Members of the community provided much needed support to the family and because of the kindness shown, the Retzlaff family decided to find ways to “pay it forward.”
Retzlaff is very active on social media, and was contacted Florida resident Mitch Cooper, who is connected to the American Legion organization. Cooper asked Retzlaff if he would like to come to Florida for an upcoming event, which included paid air travel.
“Mitch Cooper lives in Lake City Florida, and he invited me there to do this Toys-for-Tots event,” said Retzlaff. That event also includes a motorcycle ride, that includes Veterans, to raise funds for the holiday event. Up to 400 people are expected to participate in that ride.
At 14-years old, Retzlaff’s days for dressing in his costume are numbered. His quest to bring awareness to issues connected to Veterans won’t stop. “Maybe in two more years, maybe a little longer. I’m still going to support Veterans though,” said Retzlaff.
You can follow his appearances and activities on his Facebook Page.