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Retired Marine, Hy-Vee worker honored in Freedom Festival’s Tribute to Heroes

Updated: May. 16, 2021 at 11:07 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Each year the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival recognizes everyday heroes who live among us. Tracy Kading is being recognized this year as a Freedom Festival Tribute to Heroes.

Tracy Kading spent 37 years at Hy-Vee. He worked there after he got out of the marines. The last seven years he worked at the Edgewood Road store. When he wasn’t helping customers find items, Kading was helping Hy-Vee organize charitable events.

“I kind of just consider myself an Iowa kid,” he said. An Iowa Kid with a reputation for being Iowa Nice. He learned the importance of helping others in the Marines.

“The Marine Corps, you know we didn’t talk about a helpful smile in every aisle,” he said. “The mission was completely different. All the Marines I knew they had a spirit, they wanted to serve and protect and take care of.”

Kading volunteers with JDRF, biking hundreds of miles, peddling to help raise money for Juvenile Diabetes Research. He also helps out with the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. Whether it’s dropping off Hy-Vee donuts at the airport, or chaperoning a veteran to Washington D.C.

“I’m a very proud military person,” he said. “And also I just like to see our vets honored in any way possible.”

Darcy Ehrmann nominated Kading for the recognition.

“He embodies everything a hero is,” she said. “He is the most selfless person.”

Ehrmann worked with Kading at Hy-Vee, and has seen him go above and beyond.

“He’s a person that doesn’t like a lot of recognition, does things out of the kindness of his heart,” she said. “I think it’s really important to know how much he’s appreciated, not just by me, but the entire community.”

Kading is staying humble.

“I just feel like I’m trying to do my best in the community,” he said. “I guess I get confused on why I would get any special recognition for that.”

He retired last year from Hy-Vee, but he’s still volunteering, while trying to stay under the radar.

“I always say I’m a paperboy from the South side of Des Moines,” he said.

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