Ten Who Made a Difference: Tori Beck

Tori Beck couldn’t legally drive beyond school or home when she began gathering donations for a local veterans fundraiser.

The then 13-year-old Twin Spruce Junior High eighth grader organized and did the legwork for the dinner and live auction with help from Buddy Langone and Jerry Walters of American Legion Post No. 42, as well as parents Sasha and Jesse Beck.

Beck’s efforts were initially for a Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) project. It won gold honors statewide and went on to win a silver at the national level.

More importantly, though, it earned $13,000 for the American Legion Post, the local Hometown Vets and the Buffalo Veterans home.

Beck, inspired by her grandfather and his service in Vietnam, is now 14. And her efforts to help local vets is certainly not just a one-time thing.

She’s putting the finishing touches on the second annual Thank A Veteran Dinner planned for 5 p.m. Feb. 29.

That event will be on Leap Day, so Beck is asking the community to “leap up” and help a veteran. This year, donations will go to the veterans homes in Buffalo and Hot Springs, South Dakota.

“Buddy told me, ‘This is going to get bigger than you think,’” Beck recalls, and it quickly did just that.

She thought she would raise $1,000 to $2,000 with the dinner and through live and silent auctions. “It started as very, very small and then just got bigger and bigger and bigger. It was insane.”

That was when her grandfather, Larry Hansen, looked her in the eye and told Beck how proud he was of her.

That was all the reward she needed.

“He’s the smartest person I know and he will always fight for what’s right,” she said. “He’s taught me so much. He taught me to stand up for what you believe. ... I just hope to be half the person he is.”

Beck has come full circle, in a way. Growing up in Rozet, where elementary school students honor veterans with large ceremonies at least twice a year, salutes poring attention on veterans, like this, are natural for her. She’ll once again have the community involved, including the local Camel Kids wrestling club, who adopt veterans to honor each year.

“This is just my thing and I thought it was important to do it again,” she said. “It’s something I decided I wanted to keep doing. I don’t have a money goal, more just contributing and helping.”

She’s not planning the fundraiser for another FCCLA project, either. It’s deeper than that now.

This American Legion post has “developed into another family,” Beck said. “I have an extra family now.”

Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed in Wyoming, either. The state American Legion started a new award in honor of Beck, who received the award in Laramie.

She was the first recipient of the new Commanders Excellence Award in 2018-19. The trophy includes a small sculpture of a silver Eagle preparing to take flight.

Beck is ready to do that, as well.

After finishing her sophomore year in 2020-21, Beck hopes to spend her junior or senior year at an academy, such as West Point, New York, (Army) or in Annapolis, Maryland (Navy).

“I’d like to get a degree in combat medicine and be a medic in the Army or Navy,” she said. “My grandfather was a medic. I have wanted to be a medic since I was very, very young. I really, really want to help people.”

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