In bigger cities, unfortunately, too often people choose to look the other way when bad things happen. But in Wyoming, in Casper, when our community members see injustice, they don't just offer 'thoughts and prayers.' They get to work.
That's exactly what happened today when a social media post told the story of the flowers of a 91-year-old veteran being stolen out of his front yard.
It started with a woman named Cyndy Farrar Latka, who posted a few pictures to her social media page of a sign written by the 91-year-old veteran, asking for his stolen flowers to be returned.
Judging by the pictures, the man's flowers and his flower pots were stolen, right from his front yard.
"What is the world coming to?" she wrote. "This is across from the Casper Rec Center. And it about broke my heart. I hope I see him out in the yard so I can help with replacing his flower pots."
Shortly after she posted that, The Odd Duck LLC, as well as Peter Picked a Picture Frame and Painting, and Katies Kountry Garden got to work.
"We don’t get p*ssed off at The Odd Duck LLC and Peter Piper Picked a Picture Frame and Painting very often, but when we do it’s when people get bullied, so today we plan to right this wrong with our concrete art and some flowers donated by Katies Kountry Garden," a social media post from The Odd Duck stated. "Wish us luck, we hope this American Hero accepts these colorful gifts from the heart."
About 4 hours after that original post, The Odd Duck posted an update, and proved what we've all already known; that Casper is absolutely the best community when it comes to taking care of each other.
"Well Casper, WE ALL made this gorgeous couple smile from ear to ear and we have a couple new friends for life!!!" the post stated. "These are the two newest members of The Odd Duck Flock. This Army Veteran has been a Casper Native for the last 91yrs, and his much younger wife was such a sweetheart, telling us stories about years gone by and their family members that are artists in other states."
The post continued, stating that the older couple "asked us if we would tell EVERYONE in Casper, 'thank you from the bottom of their hearts,' because Katies Kountry Garden, Peter Piper Picked a Picture Frame and Painting, & The Odd Duck LLC are not the only groups to support them during this theft, and they are still really bothered, to see how the world was misbehaving!!!"
The post noted that the couple filed a police report with the Casper Police Department, because this was, unfortunately, not the first time their flowers had been stolen.
"They asked if we could contact the newspaper because they feel so blessed at the response from our groups and another gentleman who loaded them up with flowers without getting his name," the post stated.
K2 Radio News spoke with the owner of Katies Kountry Garden, Vicki Parke, who revealed the man who "was the mastermind" behind bringing the flowers to the couple is named Mike Hills.
"I saw the story on Facebook and thought it was awful but saw that someone already replaced his flowers and thought 'Dang I wish I had seen it sooner so I could have given him some,'" Parke told K2 Radio News. "Then today Mike Hills messaged me because we have worked together in the past and asked if I had any flowers I could donate and I said absolutely!! So Mike picked up the flowers and did all the leg work. I hadn’t heard yet what the man's reaction was. I’m hoping he was touched by the gesture."
Judging by the post from The Odd Duck, he was absolutely touched. So were the rest of us.
The Odd Duck stated that they loaded the family up with so much concrete decor that, if criminals decide to act again, they would be facing felony charges.
"This is why I love Casper, WY and every single person that calls it home!!!" the post stated. "Please share this post far and wide, so everyone in town gets a thank you from these two beautiful humans."
It's why we love Casper, too. This very, very easily could have been a situation that was swept under the rug. Had Cyndy not made that original post, had The Odd Duck, LLC not immediately acted, had Katies Kountry Garden not provided the flowers to Mike Hills...there are so many reasons why this might not have happened.
But it did, and it once again reinforced how incredible of a community Casper really is. Whoever stole this veteran's flowers is not a representative of Casper. He or she is not what we are about. But The Odd Duck, Katies Kountry Garden, Mike Hills, Cyndy Latka, and so many other people; they are what this town represents. They are who Casper really is.
We're proud of them, and we are more than happy to give them their flowers.
And, as The Odd Duck hashtagged: Spread Art, Not Hate.
Photos of the couple's new flowers and garden decor can be seen below:
Casper Businesses Band Together to Replace Stolen Flowers for 91 Year Old Veteran