Community Rallies to Support Wounded Purple Heart Recipient
22-year-old Michael Boucher was injured June 12 after an IED blast.
It's been one day since Oconee County resident Lance Cpl. Michael Boucher received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the line of duty, and community-wide support for the Boucher family is growing stronger than ever.
Boucher, 22, was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was injured from an IED blast June 12. According to the family, the blast resulted in bilateral amputation of his legs below the knee and other injuries. Despite the challenges, the Bouchers said the Marine's spirits are up and the outpouring of community support is helping.
"It's amazing, it's very overwhelming," said Boucher's older sister, Britany."We tell Michael about it, he feels the same way."
Michael's father, Jim, said Michael is "very touched" by the support not only from Georgia, but from all over the world. More than 600 people have left notes of encouragement and support on Michael's CaringBridge website, a site dedicated to staying in touch with family and friends during health crises.
The Bouchers are with Michael in a Maryland hospital, unsure exactly when Michael will be released. But back at home, another team of troops are mobilizing on their own.
Stacey Sullivan is one of a veritable platoon of volunteers who have been working to raise money for the Michael Boucher Fund.
“For me personally, Michael just means so much and it hit so close to home,” said Sullivan, the mother of a son serving overseas and 20-year-old triplets who have been friends with Michael for years. “The outpouring of love and prayers and support is just unbelievable.”
The fund was set up at the Bogart branch of Oconee State Bank in order to ease the family's financial burden in the months to come.
“We've had a good amount show interest and want to help,” said Marianne McCarty, a teller at the bank.
She said people who wish to donate can mail or bring in checks made out to the Michael Boucher donation account.
For $3, those who want to help can buy a rubber wristband emblazoned with “Praying for Michael.” For $8, you can buy a ticket for the Michael Boucher Benefit Barbecue from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 9 at the Bogart Community Center.
So far, Fox's Pizza Den has hosted two benefit nights to raise money for the family.
“I just think in general it's important, with small business owners, to give back as much as we can,” said owner David Walton. “It was a good cause.”
Walton said Michael was a regular at the restaurant, and that they're considering having additional benefit nights to supplement the $300 they've already raised.
The source of the idea: Josh Sullivan.
One of Stacey Sullivan's triplets, Josh has worked at Fox's Pizza Den for four years. He said he was thinking of ways to raise money for the fund and thought a percentage night could help.
“I got on Facebook, messaged and called my friends, just getting the ball rolling,” he said.
Friends since 10th grade, Josh said it's important to give back to those who serve regardless of personal opinions of the war.
“We have to give back and help them when they need it for serving us,” he said.
Jim said the family was already tremendously proud of their son, and if it was possible to be any more proud of his son following Michael's receiving the Purple Heart, that's how proud they are. With the support of the community behind them, the Bouchers can work on focusing all their attention in one place: Michael.
“Michael's very touched about the outpouring of support he's receiving from his hometown,” Britany said.
To buy BBQ tickets and wristbands, contact:
Stacey Sullivan 706-540-1025
Tina Smith 678-227-0030
Anna Sullivan 678-963-8854
Kristi Collins 770-601-8539
Jeff Collins 678-227-0384
Stephen Sullivan 678-227-3163
Jay Sullivan 706-296-3423
Aimee Shelnutt at Oconee State Bank, Bogart Branch
Casey Thornton at Southern Spa & Patio in Watkinsville
Paul at Elizabeth Ann Florist in Watkinsville