Owners of a historic Wisconsin movie theater have made it their mission to pay it forward by giving back to those who served our country.

While it's important to thank veterans for their service, Kerry Mann and his wife Jen watched veterans struggle to pay for movie tickets at the theater they recently took over, so they decided to set an example for their kids by taking action. Now the entire community and beyond have taken notice and are pitching in.

According to its website, the Montello Theatre in Marquette County has stood as a "timeless gem since 1859 (pre-Lincoln Presidency)" in Montello, Wisconsin.

The Opera House, or Dodge’s Opera House as it is often referred to, was the hub of social activity. The top floor had balcony seats. Dances, visiting theater groups, and medicine shows were the entertainment of the day. Later a 3-piece orchestra or a piano player accompanied the silent movies.

Today, the theater shows mainstream movies and prides itself on being both budget-friendly and family-friendly. They note that while entertainment costs seem to be soaring across the country, they are committed to keeping prices affordable.

The Montello Theatre has not only maintained its modest $5 ticket prices, but it also maintains it has some of the lowest concession prices in the state. Owners say that is because running the theatre is a passion project and not about making money.

That is why when they noticed some veterans struggle to pay the $5 ticket price, they decided to take $500 of their own money to cover the next 100 veterans who wanted to see a movie at the theatre.

Kerry and Jen Mann then posted a YouTube video about the initiative and the word spread throughout the community.

Another local business quickly donated $100 to pay for another 20 veterans and things have grown from there with individuals and businesses making donations online and in person.

The goal is to keep the project going forever so that no veteran ever has to pay to see a movie at the Montello Theatre. The Manns say if donations do run out, they will deposit more of their money to keep it going. Due to contracts with movie studios, they can't just let veterans walk in and take a seat, there needs to be a ticket purchased for each moviegoer.

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If they get more donations than veterans, they hope to expand this initiative to also be free for all seniors forever. If there is an overage of donations beyond the demand for veteran tickets those funds would roll over and or go into their building fund to help maintain the building which dates back to 1859.

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