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Wife of fallen Arkansas soldier keeps his legacy alive through her business

Chelsey Swindle opened up "Gold Star Meal Prep" over a year ago to remember families, just like hers, who have to live without their heroes.

BEEBE, Ark. — Memorial Day is a time when Arkansans all over, take a moment to stop and remember those who died serving their country.

One Beebe woman not only remembers the fallen on Memorial Day, but everyday through her love for cooking. And that is why she created her own business, Gold Star Meal Prep.

With the sounds of sizzling meat and the smells of home-cooked food, at first you might think it's just another shop filled with to-go meals. It's clear to see from the name on the outside, "Gold Star Meal Prep," and the pictures on the wall, that Chelsey Swindle is serving much more than just good food.

"We offer a couple of different options, we have our meal prep plan. I wanted something to bring recognition to the Gold Star Families. It's not just the name of hearing it, but I want to be able to put faces to it. I'm one of many, and we're ones that go without," she said.

In Swindle's shop, you can see picture after picture hung on the wall. Every framed photo is dedicated to families, just like hers, who now have to live without their heroes.

"My goal is to have this wall just full of faces. I hate, I hate having so many faces, but it's important to know that there are so many of us that are going without," she said.

September 28, 2012 was the day that changed Swindle's life forever. Her husband, Jason, was just 24-years-old when he was killed in Afghanistan. When Swindle found out the news, their oldest son had just turned one and they had one more child on the way.

"He loved doing what he did, and so I can't think of a better way for him to have lost his life, doing what he loved," she said.

Their second son was born six months later on his dad's birthday.

"The hardest thing was picking myself back up, but I had a newborn and a one-year-old, and there was no stop for me, I just, I just did it, you know, you're not given an option of surviving, you just do it," Swindle said.

Now she gets to live out her purpose every day, through cooking and connecting with other Gold Star Families. 

Every day when Swindle looks at her husband's picture on the wall, she knows that she wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her hero.

"Everyone says, 'He'd be so proud of you,' but I hope that he sees that I'm doing everything I can to remember him and not just him, but other Gold Star Families," she said.

This past year, Beebe's Chamber of Commerce named "Gold Star Meal Prep" the best new business.

As a way to continue honoring the fallen soldiers, all the proceeds from the tip money collected at the business, is given to a local charity that runs one mile for every fallen hero who has died in the line of duty since 9/11. 

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