If it's true that no good deed goes unpunished, then a Washington state 12-year-old who has raised more than $25,000 to help aging World War II veterans may just be the poster boy for that cliche.
Justin Peterson was holding his usual fundraiser for the Honor Flight Program, which flies vets to Washington, D.C., to see the National World War II Memorial , when a local health inspector came up to his hamburger stand in a Chewelah park. Despite the boy's worthy cause, the inspector fined him $170 for not having the proper food permit.
“She charged us for it and I was kind of sad," Peterson told local TV station KREM. "I was just trying to raise money for vets.”
Dave Windom, administrator for the health district, defended the inspector, who he said was only following policy.
“You don’t want someone in the field making judgment calls on what they consider a worthy cause and cutting people slack. It opens the door for accusations of favoritism," he said.
Still, faced with an embarrassing situation, the health district board members agreed that while they couldn't waive the fine they would use their own money to pay it off.
As for Peterson, who has helped send more than three dozen veterans to the nation's capital by selling hamburgers, holding nacho dinners and selling Honor Band wristbands (available for $5 by emailing JP4vets@yahoo.com), he called the whole thing "kind of cool."
Peterson was honored last year with the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, one of only two honorees from Washington state, for his fundraising on behalf of Honor Flight. The year before that, the Spokesman-Review dubbed Peterson a "fundraising phenomenon" for his efforts.