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Kinney rewarded for reaching out to vets

Diane Kinney was among six people who received one of the 2012 McKnight Foundation Virginia Binger Awards in Human Service. Kinney, a member of the Hudson High School Class of 1975, is the founder of Base Camp Hope that assists veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Diane Kinney was recently awarded $10,000 as one of the winners of this year's McKnight Foundation Binger Awards in Human Service.

The award came in recognition of her work on behalf of veterans and specifically as founder of Base Camp Hope, an organization that helps veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, physical rehabilitation and other related health issues.

Kinney grew in Hudson and graduated from Hudson High School in 1975. She is the daughter of Dennis Kinney and Marion Kinney. A veteran herself, she volunteered for 12 years with the Stand Down effort that also works with veterans. She got the idea for Base Camp Hope a few years ago after attending a welcome home event in St. Cloud, Minn., for a soldier who lost his legs in Iraq. After talking with him and other veterans there, she said she prayed.

"I asked God what to do about these guys and God said that's your job. What are you going to do?" recalled Kinney.

It would be another couple of years before Base Camp Hope started to come together. Kinney said they are working on a facility that can house veterans while they get on their feet and get the treatment and assistance they need. Kinney said the plans also include providing assistance to veterans' families as well. The organization has a board of directors and a grant-writer and relies totally on donations and foundation support.

And in the meantime, Kinney and other veterans who are involved continue to meet with military men and women and their families to offer what assistance and support they can. "It is so important to meet with them one-on-one right where they are at and let them know we are there to help."

Base Camp Hope will hold its third annual bike ride and fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 22. It starts at Teens for Christ Ministry Center, 538 Old Hwy. 35 just outside of Hudson and ends at the Veterans Memorial in Neillsville. It includes a pancake breakfast at 8:30 a.m. with a suggestion of an $8 donation to the Teens for Christ. Fees for the ride are $15 per driver and $10 per passenger.

Kinney, who lives in St. Paul and works full-time on the project, does not get a salary but says she has gotten used to wondering how she will get by. "But something always comes through and we keep moving ahead. It's called faith in God."

For more information about Base Camp Hope, to donate, volunteer or to participate in the fundraiser contact Kinney at (651) 238-8459 or go online at Donations can be sent c/o Kinney at 1815 Suburban Ave., St. Paul, MN 55119.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604