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Mahnomen boy starts Ethan's Care Project for troops

Ethan Berry has started Ethan's Care Project that collects items for care packages which he will send to U.S. troops deployed overseas. (submitted photo)

A Mahnomen boy suffering from a degenerative eye condition is now seeing the most important thing — his true potential to make a difference in the world.

11-year-old Ethan Berry is living with Rod-Cone Dystrophy, a condition where blood flow restriction to the retinas frequently leads to blindness.

“He’s starting to get tunnel vision, the sun is really hard for him, and he’s losing some of his color vision,” said Ethan’s mom, Heather Berry. “But he doesn’t let it slow him down one bit — he doesn’t hesitate.”

The Waubun sixth grader is proving just that, as he has started up an organization called “Ethan’s Care Project”.

“For Christmas we collected a bunch of cards and things for the holidays to send overseas to the troops in different deployed places,” said Ethan, who got the idea over Veteran’s Day when his mom happened to be talking to him and his sister about ways to give back to their community.

“I heard about other people doing this,” he said of the care packages idea, “and I thought…they are over there helping us so we should help them.”

Ethan’s eight-year-old sister, Alyssa, helped name his idea “Ethan’s Care Project” because she says he cares so much about everybody.

The boy with a big heart and a vision to help make life a little better for the troops brought his idea to the Holiday Feast in Waubun where he set up a table to collect donations.

He was able to fill two large boxes of toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, gum, candies, Christmas cards, popcorn, playing cards and homemade snowflakes from Minnesota.

Word of the project spread as Ethan got word of a local connection to a soldier in Afghanistan.

“The first nomination was sent to Christian Hatch — I used to work with his mom at the Tribal Court,” said Heather Berry. “His mom sent us pictures of Christian and other members of his unit playing cards over there, and I could just see the excitement on Ethan’s face when he realized there was a real connection there and that the things he was sending really was going to get to those people.”

Ethan completed the package with an enclosed letter about himself and the project.

“It made me feel happy because you’re doing good things for them,” said Ethan, who has continued his efforts in collecting more donations as he gets ready to make his project a year-round mission.

He’s nearly filled two more big care package boxes and is now looking for nominations for another deployed military member with a local connection.

He has started up a facebook page named under Ethan’s Care Project and is busy talking to teachers, vets and local auxiliary groups as he works to generate more donations for his care packages.

He’s hoping to send a couple off every month.

And while Ethan says his new project makes him feel good, it shows those around him that although he may not have the best eyesight, he has some great vision.

“It makes me so proud that it brings tears to my eyes,” said Heather Berry. “As a parent, you always want to teach them discipline, to help others and the value of a dollar, and this just wraps it up in a nice, big box.”

Donations for the care packages can be sent to:

Ethan Berry

Ethan’s Care Project

23857 140th Ave

Mahnomen, MN 56557. He or his parents, Heather or Cory can be reached at 218-204-0527.

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466