Leah Willingham, a corps member in Jackson, Mississippi, for the AP/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative, chronicled the struggle to care for Lawrence Brooks, who at 112 is now the oldest American World War II veteran.
The story came about after Deep South correspondent Rebecca Santana received an email about a GoFundMe set up to help Brooks’ daughter care for him. Willingham’s sensitive and respectful reporting style helped establish a level of trust with Vanessa Brooks, who eventually felt comfortable telling her father’s story and she struggles to care for him. The result was a touching tribute to a daughter doing her best in cificult circumstances.
The story, accompanied by Kathleen Flynn’s intimate photos of Brooks and his daughter at home, received strong online play and was featured prominently in The Atlanta Journal Constitution print edition.