Mothers and their families gathered at the Iron Mike Conference Center on Sunday to celebrate Mother’s Day with a brunch.

Among the mothers was Henriette Jeanne Mande-Sawadogo. Her son Sgt. Eloi Sawadogo is from the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Prior to the brunch, they had not seen each other since 2014.

Mothers and their families gathered at the Iron Mike Conference Center on Sunday to celebrate Mother’s Day with a brunch.

 

Among the mothers was Henriette Jeanne Mande-Sawadogo. Her son Sgt. Eloi Sawadogo is from the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Prior to the brunch, they had not seen each other since 2014. His commander, Capt. Paul Capstick, said Lorie Southerland of the Gold Star Mothers sponsored Mande-Sawadogo and arranged to have her fly from home--Burkina Faso in West Africa--for Mother’s Day.

 

The Gold Star Mothers had extra money in their account leftover from last year, so they decided to bring a mom to visit her son. They asked the 5/73 who in their unit hadn’t seen his mom in awhile.

Sawadogo’s unit mentioned him.

 

“We wanted to make Mother’s Day special for one of our kids. It doesn’t matter how old you are; you are still your mom’s little boy,” Southerland said.

 

While others celebrate the day surrounded by family, others have to work. For one family this didn’t stop their mother’s day celebration; it just moved it.

 

Tayler Balangue works at the bar at the Iron Mike Conference Center, but for events like this, she and other bartenders come out on the floor and waitress because they’re so busy.

 

“It’s easy,” she said. “It’s not bad. Sometimes it’s fun. You meet people from all over, other military wives...”

 

Like most holidays she works, her husband Staff Sgt. Ray Balangue brought their two kids Rayce and Rhyder to visit their mom and eat for Mother’s Day.

 

Greeting the incoming mothers was Karen Campbell who raises money through her organization Pony and Friends for Wounded Warriors with the rescue animals she brought--Miss Cluck the chicken, Honey Bunny the rabbit and two ducks. The main interest outside was the 11-year-old, tri-colored Dalmatian named Ditto Dot.

 

“The kids and the adults just love him. He’s very popular,” Campbell said.

 

Of course, the food inside was the main attraction.

 

The $21.95 buffet included multiple sections, among them a salad bar, an omelet station and a carvery station that had roast beef with rosemary glaze and black oak ham with raisin sauce. Two of the most prominent items: a whole Norwegian salmon and shrimp arrangement, which was new this year. Other food included fried chicken, french toast, fruits and vegetables.