BARDSTOWN, Ky. — Katie Marks just wants to help.
"I want to be one of the helpers," the Bardstown woman said. "I've always had a dream of starting something up to benefit others, and I had imagined it would be in healthcare or business."
But a chance encounter at a peddler's mall in Bardstown last summer changed all that. As WHAS11 reported, Marks found a soldier's memorial flag on sale at a stand for $45. She decided to buy the flag and spent several weeks searching for the flag's owner, finally locating the soldier's family in Petersburg, Indiana. Then along with riders from the local American Legion post, Marks made the three-hour trip to return the memorial flag back to its family.
"I know what it did for their family and how happy it made them and on top of that, I made new friends and they made a new friend," she said. "In fact, they're family."
Months after the experience, Marks is hoping to help more people. The Secretary of State's office has approved her new nonprofit, the Folded Flag Project, and she is working on getting it 501(c)3 status.
The Folded Flag Project, according to Marks, will help connect missing or stolen memorabilia with the veterans families. While the nonprofit is named for the folded flag that Marks found, she said she will work with all military memorabilia, including medals and awards.
"I had a lot of people reach out to me saying, 'I had this person who found a flag and I had this wonderful lady who found it and returned it, and I was so grateful,'" she said.
Marks said she wants her story to create a ripple effect of kindness that will one day make it so there isn't a need for her or others to help reunite families with the items their loved ones earned serving their country.
"The point of this is it shouldn't happen in the first place so put my nonprofit out of business," she said.
"Marks said she wouldn't have been able to get this project started without help from the American Legion Post 42, American Legion Riders Posts 147 and 157, and Rolling Thunder KY Chapter 5."
More information on the Folded Flag Project can be found on its Facebook page.