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Teenager, Country Music Star Team Up to Thank Troops

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2004 – When high-school freshman Shauna Fleming launched her campaign, "A Million Thanks," to collect and distribute letters for the troops as part of National Military Appreciation Month, she could not have imagined where it would lead.

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High-school freshman Shauna Fleming and country music star John Michael Montgomery teamed up to promote Shauna's project, "A Million Thanks," on the nationally syndicated radio show, "After Midnite With Blair Garner," in Nashville, Tenn., last week. Montgomery will sing his current hit, "Letters from Home," while Shauna hands out letters to a group of invited service members during the opening ceremonies of the Cocoa-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., May 30. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Earlier this month, Shauna set up shop under NASCAR racecar driver Matt Kenseth's tent at the Auto Club 500 in Fontana, Calif., to spread the word about "A Million Thanks."

On Memorial Day weekend she'll team up with country music artist John Michael Montgomery to promote the project during the May 30 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.

During the race's opening ceremony, Montgomery will sing his current hit, "Letters From Home," No. 2 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles and Tracks, while Shauna distributes letters to a group of service members on hand as special guests of NASCAR.

Shauna said when she heard Montgomery's "Letters from Home," which talks about a deployed soldier receiving letters from his mother, girl and father, she knew it was a perfect fit for her project. "It's sort of the theme song," she said in a phone interview from her home in California today.

The student of Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif., met the country superstar in Nashville, Tenn., last week where they did more than 70 radio and television interviews.

On the syndicated radio show "After MidNite With Blair Garner," Montgomery told host Garner that he first found out about Shauna's project through a friend in radio.

"A radio station friend called me up and told me about this, and I said, 'Now that is really cool.' He said, 'Well, I've got the young lady on the other line. Would you like to talk to her?' And I was like, 'Well, yeah!'"

"It was awesome," said Shauna. "I said, 'Oh my gosh, I love your song,' and asked if he'd like to help the project in any way. Last week, we did the radio tour. It was absolutely wonderful."

To date, they've received more than 400,000 letters and Shauna said she's confident they'll reach their goal of a million in the coming weeks.

"We've gotten letters from everywhere all across the country and even from Italy and Canada," said Shauna. "I didn't think it would be this big, but I'm really glad the project has taken off."

Shauna said her school has been very supportive.

"Saturday (May 22) we had a mail-sorting party at school. There were about 90 kids helping out. They were spilling out into the hallway. Without them, I couldn't do it."

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