Veterans assist in honoring 7-year-old girl

Payton Jones, 7, Marshall, is pictured with Missouri State Rep. Dean Dohrman, Missouri Veterans Home of Warrensburg Volunteer Coordinator Latisha Koetting and a group of veterans during a special assembly Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Southeast Elementary School. Pictured from the left in the front row are James McCoy, Air Force veteran; Pearl Martin, visitor; Payton Jones; James Finley, Air Force veteran; and John Higgins, Navy veteran. In the back row are Koetting and Dohrman.

WARRENSBURG — On Wednesday, Dec. 12, veterans at the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg decided to make the day of a 7-year-old Marshall girl named Payton Jones.

She captured the hearts of veterans on Memorial Day with her performance of the national anthem. She returned in September to kickoff the Run for Freedom 5K, 10K and Poker Walk.

State Rep. Dean Dohrman was so impressed with her, he wanted to present her with a resolution from the Missouri House of Representatives in honor of her service and talents.

She was supposed to sing at the Veterans Day program in November but was ill and wasn’t able to perform.

Dohrman planned to present her with the resolution at that time.

Since she wasn’t able to make it to the Veterans Home, the staff and veterans decided to surprise her at her school — Southeast Elementary School in Marshall.

Latisha Koetting, supervisor of volunteer services, and Melissa Terry, director of recreation therapy, loaded up three veterans and drove them to Marshall.

They met up with Dohrman and surprised Jones with an

all-school assembly.

More than 220 classmates, along with teachers, staff and her family were in attendance. They presented her with the house resolution.

It included some of the special things she has done in her lifetime.

According to her mother, Annie Bales, she began playing the piano at the age of eight months and started singing at the age of 2. She loves volunteering for the Salvation Army and has distinguished herself by serenading Walmart guests as they walk by during the Christmas season.

She is a member of the Missouri Council of the Blind, the AWANA Club at her church and the YMCA. In her free time, she enjoys attending Christmas concerts, swimming, jumping on her trampoline and donating her toys to her local thrift store.

She is the daughter of Zachary Jones, Kansas City, and Bales, Marshall.

She has optic nerve hypoplasia.

She is blind in both eyes with some light perception. She has been using a cane and learning Braille since she was 1 1/2 years old.

Jones thanked everyone by singing a special Christmas song for the entire school.

The assembly ended with a round of “Jingle Bells.”

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