Time Running Out For Body Armor

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Maryville (WVLT) -- We first told you about a Maryville couple trying to raise money for their son and his Marine unit's body armor about a month ago.

On Saturday Kim Bedford checked in on the mom and dad who are working harder than ever to collect thousands of dollars, all with time running out.

Javier and Marian La Rosa now have less than a week to come up with $21,000 for "Dragon Skin" body armor. Body armor that will potentially protect their son and his his Marine unit.

"Today, by the time we left our home, we are at 12,577 dollars and 40 cents," Javier said.

As of Saturday afternoon they had enough for at least three vests. That means nine more to go at $3700 a piece.

"I believe that we will get the whole unit," Marian said.

Their only son, Lance Corporal Alex La Rosa, is the inspiration behind all the La Rosa fund raising. It was Alex who told his parents he couldn't accept their gift of a top of the line body armor unless his whole unit could also receive the vests. The 21-year old leaves for Iraq this summer, and his proud father is determined to do whatever it takes to provide the unit with "Dragon Skin".

"If I cannot get it to him by the time he leaves, if I have to walk it to Iraq, I'll take it there," Javier said.

They are a concerned mother and father who don't understand why their son, and everyone else serving our country, is not given the best protection out there.

"They're murdering our troops with this body armor," Javier said, "they know it's inadequate. They know the plates break."

For Marian, the situation is just a frustrating one.

"The welfare of our young men and women should be more important than making a dollar," she said.

Dollar by dollar, the La Rosa's are getting closer to purchasing the armor. Donations haven't come just from East Tennessean either, the rest of the country pitching in.

"It's fantastic, Marian said, "We're hearing people from Montana, from California, all over the country."

Javier is grateful for a nationwide display of the Volunteer spirit.

"It touches my heart," he said, "It touches my soul that people across the nation are taking up the call."

The La Rosa's say they are not going to stop once they reach 12 vests. The are already planning to protect Alex's full platoon of 300.

"If I need to dedicate my life to be doing this every single week and every single day, that's fine, Javier said, "I'm ready."

Time is ticking down, and half of the total amount of money is due by next weekend.

We talked to Javier again on Saturday night after a full day of fund raising and he told us that they raised close to $1200 for the day.

Tomorrow, they hope to raise even more.

If you would like to help the La Rosa's you can donate money at any SunTrust Bank. You can also click on the link below to access the Website the La Rosa's have set up to get more donations.


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