SARAH NELSON – Staff Writer, Brainard Dispatch
There’s a first for everything. For Randall resident Annette Brown, the month of May has resulted in a whole list of firsts and it all started with a can of Pepsi.
While Annette’s husband, Kevin, an Army reservist serving in Iraq, was drinking a can of cola, he spotted an advertisement for the Pepsi-sponsored “Phoenix Wish for our Heroes” project. It occurred to Brown that he could submit his wife’s name to the contest and possibly earn her the birthday present of a lifetime.
Annette Brown, holding her son, David, was surprised with an all-expense paid trip to South Carolina to visit the set of her favorite television show, “Army Wives”. Her husband, Kevin, serving on active duty in Iraq, submitted his wife’s wish to the “Phoenix Wish for Our Heroes” contest.
“Wish for our Heroes” was created to reward men and women in service for their commitment to military service. The initiative funds projects and ideas that are designed to make a positive impact on local communities.
Phoenix rewards usually come in the form of practical help for overburdened spouses – in services like child care, landscaping or transportation.
Kevin submitted his wife’s name to the contest along with the wish for her and her sister, Amber Baron, also of Randall, to visit the set of their favorite TV show, “Army Wives,” to celebrate Annette’s 22nd birthday.
His wish won the contest.
Over Mother’s Day weekend, Annette, who is seven months pregnant, received the news during her nightly call from her husband. Kevin informed Annette that she and her sister had won an all-expenses-paid trip to Charleston, S.C., but left out the part about visiting the set of “Army Wives.”
Annette, who has never traveled far from home, boarded her first airplane thinking she was going to spend a few days with an author she enjoys.
Annette and Amber spent an entire day in Charleston and even made their first trip to the ocean before Annette finally learned the real reason for her trip. “They did a good job of keeping it from me,” she said. “I had no idea.”
Two Randall women earned an all-expenses-paid trip through a contest to the set of “Army Wives,” a Lifetime television show. Shown on set earlier this month are Jeff Wells (left), founder of Phoenix Wish for our Heroes; “Army Wives” cast members, Terry Serpico and Wendy Davis; contest winner, Annette Brown, Randall; cast member, Kim Delaney; Kristen Stonecipher, of Phoenix Wish for our Heroes; and Brown’s sister, Amber Baron (front), Randall.
On May 24, Annette and Amber were escorted by limousine to the set of “Army Wives” where they were honored by the show’s cast and crew. The sisters got to spend the day on set with the cast of the series, participated in a script read-through and watched the filming of an upcoming episode of the show.
Annette said it was the opportunity of a lifetime to experience something that she feels so connected to.
She is, after all, an “Army wife.”
The show captures “a lot of the struggles and hardships military families go through while soldiers are deployed,” she said. “This is my life.”
The entire trip was funded and planned by the Phoenix Wish for Our Heroes in partnership with Pepsi’s Refresh Project.
The Browns are both Randall natives and Annette’s family, including six siblings, all live within a few miles of each other. Annette and Amber work together in Little Falls at Home Savings of America. Annette and Kevin have one son, David, who will be 2 in August.
Kevin served with the Army Reserve in Afghanistan from January 2004 through May 2005 and was deployed for the second time to Iraq last October. He is scheduled to return home this summer just in time for the birth of their second child, a boy who they plan to name Adam.
SARAH NELSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.