• Ketia Swanier signs autographs Saturday at Kefurt Gym on Fort Benning.

    WNBA player hosts ice cream social

    Ketia Swanier signs autographs Saturday at Kefurt Gym on Fort Benning.

  • Volunteers Kaisha Nesmith and Shelley Calhoun scoop chocolate and vanilla ice cream for children of deployed Soldiers.  The event was hosted by WNBA player and Columbus High School graduate Ketia Swanier.

    WNBA player hosts ice cream social

    Volunteers Kaisha Nesmith and Shelley Calhoun scoop chocolate and vanilla ice cream for children of deployed Soldiers. The event was hosted by WNBA player and Columbus High School graduate Ketia Swanier.

The Ketia4Kidz Foundation provides support through educational and outreach activities for children of deployed and severely injured active-duty Soldiers.
Swanier graduated from Columbus High School in 2004.
Swanier's parents served more than 22 years and retired at Fort Benning.

The children of deployed Soldiers in 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team received a sweet treat from WNBA 2009 world champion Phoenix Mercury guard Ketia Swanier Saturday at Kelley Hill's Kefurt Gym.
Swanier took pictures and signed autographs while the kids enjoyed Bruster's chocolate and vanilla ice cream outside in the sun.

"I was a military brat," she said. "Both of my parents were in the Army. I know what it's like to have parents deployed."

Swanier's parents served more than 22 years and retired at Fort Benning. She graduated from Columbus High School in 2004 and played for the University of Connecticut before entering the WNBA.

Her nonprofit organization, the Ketia4Kidz Foundation, provides support through educational and outreach activities for children of deployed and severely injured active-duty Soldiers.

Swanier, an only child, recalled her father deploying with 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team on one of the unit's initial tours to Iraq.

"He was gone most of my 10th- and 11th-grade years," she said. "He deployed, came home for a few weeks and then had to go back."
She said she wanted to let the kids have a good time and enjoy themselves in spite of the difficulties many face during the separations.

Veronica Graham, who brought her four children out for ice cream, said she was thankful for Swanier's visit.

"I think this is great for the kids of 3rd Brigade," Graham said. She said fun events like the ice cream social help take her mind off her husband, SPC Calvin Graham, who is deployed with 203rd Brigade Support Battalion.

Veronica said at times caring for their kids alone can be so overwhelming that she would rather switch places with her husband.

Swanier's mother, Rosie, said she could identify with the spouses and parents who have to stay strong and keep going during deployments.

"As a mother, as a parent and as a Soldier, I did what I had to do," she said. "But it was by the grace of God that I made it through."

Rosie wants military children to draw inspiration from her daughter.

"She's not speaking on what she thinks; she's speaking on what she knows," Rosie said. "And there's a big difference." The message - "Just hang in there."

Page last updated Thu March 11th, 2010 at 15:45