SGT. Will Gardner tells the story of Iraq War veteran Will Gardner (Max Martini) who is suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) he sustained with his platoon while in combat.
His injuries make it difficult for him to reintegrate into society. After a series of setbacks, he embarks on a spirited motorcycle journey across America with the goal of reuniting with his son.
Along his journey, he tries to pick up the pieces of the life he’s lost since returning from combat. His PTSD causes frequent flashbacks to the Iraq War which he survives by having frequent conversations with Sam (Omari Hardwick), his best friend and war buddy.
SGT. WILL GARDNER will be released in select theaters, VOD, and Digital on January 11, 2019 from Cinedigm.
Director: Max Martini
Writer: Max Martini
Stars: Max Martini, Omari Hardwick, Gary Sinise. See complete cast list
The future looks bright for this veteran entrepreneur, who miraculously regained his once lost eyesight.
By Annie Nelson
Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Michael J. Landry Jr. was returning from his 5th combat deployment as a Field Radio Operator when he received orders to Okinawa, Japan in August 2014. He underwent an eye exam and was told his vision had changed but not to worry.
However in Japan, Landry noticed his vision was getting worse—so much so that his optometrist thought he was exaggerating his condition. It was then he was told that both of his corneas were shattered and he was legally blind in both eyes.
I spoke with Landry about his amazing journey, from regaining his sight to competing in the Marine Corps Trials to starting his own lifestyle clothing and music businesses.
Tell me about your journey to being able to see again?
I was medically evacuated from Okinawa in March 2016 and sent to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, Calif. In Japan, I was still able to make out the outlines of objects because of the cloudy weather, but in California, I wasn’t able to see anything because it was so much brighter. I was fitted for hard-lens contacts until I received a corneal transplant in my left eye. The crazy thing was the eye transplant I received was originally blue! But then genetics took over and the eye eventually turned brown.
Due to my amazing doctor, the day after the surgery for the first time in two years, I was able to see the eye chart. Over the next 20 months, the vision in my left eye improved to the point that I was able to get prescription glasses, but only for the left lens because I was still blind in my right eye. Last February, I received the transplant for the right eye and today, I still have 12 stitches inside that eye but my vision overall is constantly improving.
You recently competed in the Marine Corps Trials—what events did you compete in and how did you finish? Are you going to the Warrior Games?
Yes, I competed in several events including track, shot put, discus, 100m sprint and powerlifting. For the powerlifting event, my doctor recommended to limit the weight because the excessive eye pressure could still cause damage. I was scheduled to run the 200m and 400m, but I pulled my hamstring during the 100m sprint. I ended up finishing first place in all events except powerlifting. I competed in the visually impaired category for field events, however, I did out throw every other competitor overall. I was also selected to compete in the Warrior Games and I’m looking forward to it.
What did the Marine Corps Trials teach you?
It taught me that I’m able to do more than I think. I’ve never competed in any of those sports before and it felt as if it came naturally. It also taught me that I need to learn to stretch better so I don’t get hurt!
You are a new entrepreneur. Tell me about your businesses and how you started?
The birth of One Life Clothing started when I was going blind. I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t true so I began sewing with the thought that in order to sew, you have to be able to see. Going blind at the age of 32 forces you to see life in a different perspective. Tomorrow isn’t promised and you never know what can happen so you should always enjoy the “One Life” you have.
My second business I actually credit with saving my life. I was going through a lot mentally and physically with the loss of my sight and was severely depressed. At one point I was contemplating suicide until one day my brother, who is a rap artist, called me to vent about his music career, or lack thereof due to bad business deals. To help him, I started One Life Entertainment Music Group, LLC. Thus far, we’ve released four solo albums and two compilation albums.
My non-profit organization, One Life At A Time Outreach, helps not only feed the homeless, but also provide necessities like clothes, toiletries and shoes.
What does the future look like for you?
Bright I would say. Losing your vision and gaining it back is a blessing on its own, no matter what life throws at me. I’ve already won because I can see again. I’m embracing the new me. Business-wise, I would love to get into government contract designing and making uniforms as well as getting my clothing line into stores.
What advice would you give other service members who are recovering from an injury or illness?
You have to embrace the new you. I know what it feels like to be completely alone and to be stuck in your own head, but you have to remember that you are here for a purpose. God will never give you a task that you can’t handle. We are all gifted—find your gift and get out of your comfort zone.
When it comes to the U.S. Marines, one of their core beliefs is to leave no man behind.
That motto was on full display last week when retired Marine Sgt. John Nelson was caught on video carrying his friend and fellow Marine, Staff Sgt. Jonathon Blank, to the summit of Utah’s Mount Timpanogos.
Blank lost his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2010, with Nelson nearby when the blast occurred. The two, who served together on long-range reconnaissance missions, joined “Fox & Friends” Tuesday to detail the inspirational journey, which spanned 14 miles and 4,500 feet of elevation.
The sight of Nelson carrying Blank, who weighs about 135 pounds, on his back left two fellow hikers in awe and one shared the video on Facebook.
Phil Casper wrote, “They sought no special attention. The disabled vet said he weighed 135 lbs. They were committed to reach the summit. Having just exhausted myself to reach the summit with less than 5 lbs on my back, it was hard to fathom the drive that the pair possessed to achieve their goal.
To have arrived where I met them was already an incredible accomplishment. It was a powerful and inspiring experience to see them on their way.”
Continue on to Fox News to read the complete article.
When John and Brittany Curtin got married in 2015, they never dreamed they’d be living where they are today.
The couple met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland back in 2011— Brittany was a volunteer with the Red Cross and John was in outpatient treatment for injuries he sustained while deployed in Afghanistan.
A Marine Lance Corporal, John joined the Marines at 19. He lost both of his legs and severely damaging his right arm when his foot triggered an IED one month into his deployment. He now gets around with the help of prosthetic legs or a wheelchair.
As difficult as John’s injuries were to adapt to, he and Brittany, both 29, live their lives today with incredible ease. For that, they thank two organizations: Homes For Our Troops and Wayfair, who have provided them with a specially-adapted — and fully furnished — home of their dreams, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
“We feel so unbelievably blessed,” Brittany tells PEOPLE of the experience. “Just for our day to day, our routine has entirely changed. Because John isn’t so taxed just doing small things, he’s able to do so much more both inside and outside the house.”
“It’s been an absolutely life changing experience,” John agrees. “It’s just transformed my life completely. When Brittany and I were first living in Virginia together we lived in a little 700-square-foot apartment, and we couldn’t even pass each other in the hallway because my wheelchair took up the whole space. So the ease of living is just unreal compared to those experiences.”
Not only is the 2,800-square-foot home and surrounding property entirely complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and wheelchair-accessible, but a variety of gadgets inside the home are designed to help John complete daily tasks with ease.
For example, extendable shelves in the kitchen and closets can be pulled down to be at John’s eye level, and a track chair in the backyard allows him to move around the property — which has paved and graded paths — and do yard work.
Continue on to People to read the complete article.
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) veteran of the year honored for overcoming adversity, helping others find redemption.
By: Matt Saintsing
Patt Maney comes from a proud family tradition of military service stretching back to the French and Indian War, so his path to join the Army Reserve in 1971 was well laid before him.
What Maney couldn’t foresee, though, was the massive improvised explosive device blast that ripped through his armored vehicle in Afghanistan three decades later. And even less clear was the end point of the long, arduous path to recover from his injuries, including a broken nose, 27 cracked teeth, cartilage tears in both of his shoulders, sprained knees, nerve damage and a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).
In 2005, about 50 miles outside of Kabul, Maney’s life changed in a literal flash. As an Army judge advocate general working as a political adviser to an Afghanistan Reconstruction Group, he was on a mission to find drinkable water when the explosion occurred.
“The blast went off immediately in front of the vehicle instead of under it,” said Maney. “We got blown into the air, then we fell down into the crater as we kept going forward.”
Though everyone survived the attack, Maney’s hard road to recovery was about to begin.
His most serious injury, the TBI, took away much of his cognitive abilities. A fellow soldier had to walk him on the plane out of Afghanistan, and while at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, his wife Caroline often had to lead him around by hand.
“He became a 56-year-old 6-year-old, and I had to learn how to deal with him and help him,” Caroline said. “I was his full-time caregiver, and he needed assistance daily to get him from place to place.”
A veil of uncertainty shrouded Maney’s recovery, and his and Caroline’s future. Would he be able to return to the bench as a judge? Could he ever work again? These questions and others wouldn’t be answered until after dozens of hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions, a treatment that forces blood to absorb more oxygen.
The results were astounding. Maney noticed a difference after a few weeks. “One of my doctors said, ‘You’re speaking in full sentences, and you’re maintaining eye contact,” recalled Maney.
After a regimen of therapy sessions, multiple surgeries and 80 hyperbaric oxygen dives, Maney retired in 2007 as a brigadier general from the Army Reserve. His work with helping veterans, however, was just getting started.
Maney first contacted DAV at Walter Reed in 2006, while going through a Medical Evaluation Board. The Army had found him unfit for duty but concluded he had no long-term disabilities.
“DAV took it from ‘you’re out of the Army; have a nice day’ to ‘you’re out of the Army, but you’re going to receive disability compensation,'” said Maney, adding he joined DAV out of gratitude.
Maney returned to the bench in Okaloosa County, Fla., with a new sense of compassion for what veterans have gone through. “I learned firsthand how injuries could burden a veteran and their transition,” he said. “There needed to be a system to meet the unique needs of justice involving veterans whose illegal conduct can be related to military service.”
In 2011, he started the county’s Mental Health and Veterans Treatment Court, the first in the state.
Todd Blackburn, an Army Ranger made famous by the book and movie “Black Hawk Down,” understands more than most how the program can help. At a dark moment in his life, while self-medicating his service-connected injuries, he was involved in an altercation that landed him before Maney’s Veterans Treatment Court.
“I was able to clear my record up and find the help that I finally needed with the VA,” said Blackburn. “Veterans Treatment Court gave me a huge second chance, and it’s all because of Judge Maney.”
Judge Angela Mason, a mentee of Maney’s who now presides over the same Veterans Treatment Court, said his impact is immeasurable to both the community and the individual veterans who go through the program.
“Veterans have chosen to serve this country to risk their lives for this country and often come back with injuries that you don’t get in any other line of work, both physical and invisible,” she said. “The court system is not only to punish, but it’s also to rehabilitate and to help people.”
And it’s been working exceptionally well. According to Mason, the program has a 13% recidivism rate, less than half of the 30% rate in Okaloosa County documented in a 2018 Florida Department of Corrections report. To date, more than 30 counties in Florida have adopted a Veterans Treatment Court. The Florida statute establishing a Veterans Treatment Court system statewide is named after Maney, as is the street around the Okaloosa County courthouse.
Maney also finds and fosters community wherever he goes. He pushed for the establishment of a Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center in Okaloosa County, helping hundreds of veterans each year with counseling and other rehabilitative services since 2011. He also spearheaded the Homeless Veteran Stand Down, an annual community-driven event that began in 2007, which has helped 1,200 homeless veterans to date in Okaloosa and Walton counties.
“This would be an impressive body of work for any individual,” said National Commander Dennis Nixon. “But what makes Judge Maney so exceptional is that this was all done after 20 intense months of healing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He used his own experiences and challenges to fuel his advocacy work for other veterans, and that’s what sets him apart.”
As an additional tribute to local veterans, Maney acquired the bell from the USS Okaloosa, a World War II-era ship named after the county, and a Huey helicopter to honor those who served in Vietnam. Both are on display at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport.
He officially retired from the bench last year. At 71, he shows no signs of slowing down.
“You can feel the compassion that he has for his fellow veterans,” said DAV’s Department of Florida Adjutant Andy Marshall, who nominated Maney for the 2019 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year award. “It’s great to have someone who is highly regarded, and a leader in the community, to be a member of the DAV.”
What motivates Maney to keep giving back to the veteran community and help others continually?
According to Caroline, it’s about those he’s able to give back to.
After serving 11 years with the U.S. Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary Linfoot’s Iraq tour was cut short on May 31, 2008, when his helicopter experienced a catastrophic mechanical failure that resulted in a crash landing.
Linfoot broke his L1 vertebrae in the crash, leaving him paralyzed below the waist. Despite his injuries, he returned to duty just three months later as the Officer in Charge of the only Special Operations Aquatic Training Facility, before retiring as a Master Aviator in 2010.
When the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program heard of Linfoot’s story and excellent service record, they decided to honor his sacrifice by building his family a brand new smart home in Adams, Tennessee, complete with automation technologies by Nortek Security & Control.
Lance Wascom, Managing Partner of ELAN dealer AVLX, designed and installed the home’s technology infrastructure. “After speaking with Gary, we agreed that remote access and simplicity of operation were the most important features,” Wascom said. “Using the ELAN Control System, along with connected technologies from Nortek Security & Control, we were able to design and install an intelligent home system that’s super easy to use while offering major benefits and almost limitless expandability for future needs.”
An ELAN gSC10 home controller integrates the home’s technologies, from heating and cooling to multi-room distributed audio and video. Mr. and Mrs. Linfoot can control the system from a variety of new ELAN interfaces, including an ELAN Intelligent Touch panel enabled with face recognition from Nortek Security & Control’s IntelliVisionâ. When CW5 Linfoot approaches the Intelligent Touch Panel, it recognizes his face, presents a personalized menu of control options, sets his preferred lighting and his favorite Pandoraâ station. Additional control is enabled through three ELAN HR30 touchscreen remotes and the ELAN app on their mobile devices. The mobile app offers full control from anywhere, which adds peace of mind by allowing live viewing of the home’s eight ELAN surveillance cameras and security system, even remote locking/unlocking of the electronic door locks.
“Access and security monitoring are at the top of the list for daily needs,” Wascom said. “The front and back doors both feature motorized Z-Wave door locks that are controlled through ELAN, so they can unlock or lock the house right from the app. We also integrated the garage door and a front door video station, so the couple has a complete view of the home’s current status and can easily see when someone is at their front door, even if they are halfway around the world.”
AVLX made sure to use the newest ELAN Intelligent Touch Panels so that the family can take advantage of the company’s new facial recognition capabilities, which enables door access and custom automation actions without any input from the user. All U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Linfoot needs to do is position his face in front of the panel, and a variety of customized actions will take place; the lights will turn on and his favorite Pandora station will begin to play.
In addition to the many touchscreen interfaces, AVLX used ELAN’s new Amazon Alexa integration to create scenes using simple spoken phrases such as “Alexa, good morning”, which turns on specific lights, turns on the living room TV to a particular preset station, and sets the volume. A whole-home Lutron lighting system, coupled with three rooms of Lutron motorized shades, all controlled through ELAN, makes lighting management as easy as a few taps on a touchscreen. With these systems integrated, Linfoot doesn’t have to move back and forth between rooms to adjust the lights, and can even turn them off from his wheelchair or couch when he wants to watch a movie.
When they relax in front of the main TV in the living room, the Linfoots are treated to the ultimate in audio clarity and performance, thanks to the 5.1 Sunfire surround system that includes five Cinema Ribbon speakers and an HRS-8 subwoofer. The home features five distinct audio zones that can each be individually controlled for volume and content, and are virtually invisible thanks to SpeakerCraft Aim8 in-ceiling speakers. An ELAN S86A handles audio distribution and amplification. Four TVs receive content through the ELAN multi-zone video system, with sources that include two DirecTV receivers and an Apple TV.
CW5 Linfoot needs his home’s technologies to perform day in and day out, so AVLX used a Furman® F-1500 power conditioner and UPS to protect from power surges and ensure optimal voltage delivery to each piece of rack equipment. AVLX also integrated the home’s HVAC system using two ELAN thermostats and four temperature sensors that provide instant access and climate scheduling options.
“The usability of Gary’s home depends on the reliability of all these systems working together, so it’s critical that we protect the expensive equipment and minimize any chance of failure,” Wascom said. “Gary made an incredible sacrifice for our country, and the entire AVLX team is proud to help increase his independence and improve his daily life.”
According to Scott Schaeperkoetter, Director of Operations for the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, “Through the generosity of our donors and installation partners, we have given CW5 Linfoot and his wife a transformative home that simplifies everyday tasks and suits Gary’s specific needs. We’re proud that our work is improve Gary’s daily life and helping a decorated veteran regain independence in his home.”
ELAN, part of Nortek Security & Control, develops an award-winning line of whole-house entertainment and control solutions distributed through a comprehensive channel of select dealers throughout the United States, Canada, and countries worldwide. The ELAN 8 update was honored with the “2017 Human Interface Product of the Year” award. The new ELAN Intelligent Touch Panels add face recognition and voice control for a truly intelligent home experience. To learn more, visit elanhomesystems.com.
About Nortek Security & Control
Nortek Security & Control LLC (NSC) is a global leader in smart connected devices and systems for residential, security, access control, and digital health markets. NSC and its partners have deployed more than 5 million connected systems and over 25 million security and home control sensors and peripherals. Through its family of brands including 2GIG®, ELAN®, Linear®, GoControl®, Mighty Mule® and Numera®, NSC designs solutions for national telecoms, big box retailers, OEM partners, service providers, security dealers, technology integrators and consumers.
Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, NSC has over 50 years of innovation and is dedicated to addressing the lifestyle and business needs of millions of customers every day. For further information, visit nortekcontrol.com.
BATON ROUGE (June 24, 2019) – Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, named after its founder’s beloved yellow lab, “Raising Cane,” has launched a nationwide campaign to support Patriot PAWS Service Dogs – a Rockwall, Texas-based non-profit that trains and provides the highest quality service dogs at no cost to disabled American Veterans and others with mobile disabilities.
Now through July 7, Raising Cane’s invites customers to purchase a limited-edition Stars & Stripes Plush Puppy for $8.99, plus tax, while supplies last. The Stars & Stripes Plush Puppy will benefit Patriot PAWS Service Dogs.
“I’m proud to support our veterans through Patriot PAWS who serves those who served,” said Raising Cane’s Founder & CEO Todd Graves. “Their service dogs make a significant difference in the lives of American heroes; these specially trained dogs help restore Veterans’ physical and emotional independence.”
“We are beyond grateful for the support of organizations like Raising Cane’s,” said Patriot PAWS Founder Lori Stevens. “We receive hundreds of calls each month from disabled veterans asking for a service dog, and campaigns like this are essential in helping us accomplish our mission to provide highly trained service dogs at no cost to American veterans.”
More than 400 Raising Cane’s restaurants across the country will be selling the Stars & Stripes Plush Puppy. To learn more about Raising Cane’s Stars & Stripes Plush Puppy and previous Plush Puppy campaigns throughout the years, visit raisingcanes.com/plushpuppy and for the location nearest you, visit raisingcanes.com/locations.
ABOUT RAISING CANE’S®:
With 440 restaurants in 27 US states and 6 countries, Raising Cane’s is actively involved in all communities it serves, supporting tens of thousands of organizations; The company centers on its six areas of focus: education, feeding the hungry, pet welfare, business development and entrepreneurship, active lifestyles and “everything else!”
Founded by Todd Graves in 1996 and named for his yellow Labrador, Raising Cane’s is the fastest-growing restaurant concept over $1 Billion in sales in the US. The company consistently ranks among the top restaurants for Overall Customer Satisfaction and was named recently named “Family Favorite Restaurant Chain” by Restaurant Business magazine. Raising Cane’s has also been named a Top 10 brand for craveability and was recently recognized as having the Most Loyal Guests – known as “Caniacs” – in the fast-casual segment in Technomic’s 2018 Consumers’ Choice Awards. Raising Cane’s was raked by Glassdoor as one of the top 100 places to work in the United States, voted on by our Crewmembers two years in a row.
As part of the new relationship, ESPN has donated $50,000 to support DAV’s Mobile Service Office (MSO) program to assist veterans and their families in applying for benefits earned in military service and is raising awareness of how DAV helps more than 1 million veterans annually.
“ESPN is known for serving sports fans anytime, anywhere. With their continued support, we’re able to help those who’ve served where they live,” said Marc Burgess, DAV national adjutant and CEO. “The MSO program brings DAV’s team of specially trained benefits experts, who are veterans themselves, to some of the nation’s most vulnerable disabled veterans to assist them in getting critical benefits, from health care to disability. These resources often have a transformative impact on a veteran’s life.”
The MSO program is DAV’s “office on wheels.” It extends benefits and claims assistance to veterans who might not be able to access help due to distance, lack of transportation, health or other reasons. ESPN is supporting approximately 70 MSO stops this year, starting in August and continuing through October in states including Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota and California.
“At ESPN, we salute America’s Heroes for their incredible sacrifice and service to our country,” said Kevin Martinez, ESPN vice president of Corporate Citizenship. “We are incredibly proud to team up with DAV to support the MSO program, enabling veterans to more easily access the benefits and resources they are entitled to and deserve.”
ESPN is spreading the message of DAV’s work by airing its public service announcements (PSAs). DAV’s “Victory for Veterans” PSAs tell stories of how the nonprofit helps America’s veterans overcome obstacles and achieve personal victories, both big and small, as well as encourage other veterans to access its free services. DAV members and staff also spoke to ESPN employees about the challenges of transitioning from active-duty military to civilian life, and how veterans with visible and invisible wounds can get support from DAV to help rebuild their lives.
To learn more about ESPN’s charitable giving and cause marketing programs, visit www.espn.com/citizenship. To access DAV’s services or speak to a service officer, visit DAV.org.
About DAV: DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them, fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill, providing employment resources to veterans and their families, and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a nonprofit organization with more than 1 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at www.dav.org.
About ESPN: ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use the power of sport to positively address society’s needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information, go to www.espn.com/citizenship
Irvine, Ca., June 15, 2019 — The Blinded American Veterans Foundation’s (BAVF) Carlton Sherwood Media Award was accepted by Natalie Morales, U.S. Veterans Magazine‘s East Coast Correspondent, in Washington, D.C., on June 14, 2019.
Morales accepted the award on behalf of Mona Lisa Faris, president and publisher of U.S. Veterans Magazine, juxtapose to the Cannon House Office Building at the Capitol Hill Club.
“U.S. Veterans Magazine is dedicated to the support and needs of our veterans. To be recognized by the Blinded American Veterans Foundation for our work is truly an honor,” Faris said when notified of the upcoming award.
This Annual Media Award for Meritorious Service is presented to media personnel who, in the opinion of the BAVF, support and celebrate the veterans in their communities through their respective platforms.
The award is named in Sherwood’s honor, in recognition of a lifetime of service he had for the dissemination of information that benefited the lives of active-duty military personnel, veterans and their families.
Sherwood served on two news teams which were responsible for the award of the Pulitzer Prize and the Peabody Award to their organizations.
About U.S. Veterans Magazine U.S. Veterans Magazine‘s mission is to open up immediate, lucrative employment, business and supplier opportunities for veterans, transitioning service members, disabled veterans and veteran business owners within federal government as well as corporate America. In turn, we link companies and government entities to qualified career and business candidates from the ranks of the nation’s veterans.
About the Blinded American Veterans Foundation
The Blinded American Veterans Foundation assists blinded and sensory-disabled veterans in attaining their full potential through research, rehabilitation, and re-employment. It offers employment networking and rehabilitation and resource counseling, and provides funding for rehabilitation centers. Other programs include placement services and a compilation of related statistics. It also conducts research, educational, and charitable programs. This valuable service is performed strictly with volunteers and no paid staff.
The Blinded American Veterans Foundation was launched in 1985 by three American veterans who lost their sight during service in Korea and Vietnam — John Fales(USMC), Don Garner(USN) and Dennis Wyant (USN).
Find out more about the Blinded American Veterans Foundation at http://bavf.org/
The SUV that Rick Green drove his newborn babies home in will now be packed with heroes, he said in Maine last week, handing over the car keys to a Maine organization that provides a free getaway vacation for wounded veterans and their families.
His Westford-based automotive company, 1A Auto, donated a Chevrolet Equinox to the Travis Mills Foundation in rural Rome, Maine. The car will transport veterans and their families from the airport to the retreat, a key need for the nonprofit. (pictured: Mike Green, co-owner of 1A Auto, hands over the keys to Brandy Cain, the executive director of the Travis Mills Foundation in Rome, Maine.
“This helps bring us some much-needed relief,” Brandy Cain, executive director of the Travis Mills Foundation, said as Rick and his brother Mike pulled up in the 2008 teal SUV. “There’s a lot of good people who are really good to us.
“That looks awesome,” she added, speaking to the owners of 1A Auto. “I’m excited to drive your baby.”
The SUV is one of the first cars that 1A Auto bought at auction. The company then changed more than 100 car parts, as seen in their how-to videos online.
“Instead of selling back at auction, we wanted to start giving cars to organizations and veterans who really need them,” said Rick, whose father flew massive C-5 transport planes in the Air Force. “This is just the first one we’ll donate, a very special one.”
Rick, who ran for Congress in the 3rd District last year, recently asked his public relations manager John MacDonald if there was a veterans organization that could use a vehicle. MacDonald, a veteran and member of the Lowell-based Veterans Assisting Veterans, reached out to the Travis Mills Foundation — and the nonprofit confirmed they needed a car.
Before heading to Maine, 1A Auto brought the car to Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford, where students helped inspect and tune up the SUV.
At the retreat — founded by an Army sergeant who lost portions of his arms and legs in Afghanistan — veterans and their families can get massages, canoe, kayak, participate in adaptive rope courses, read books from the Barbara Bush Foundation, eat lobster and more.
“They tell us this is better than Disneyland, the best family vacation they’ve ever had. We get that a lot,” Cain said. “Many injured veterans can’t go on a traditional vacation, but here, they can actually be an active part of the family because we have all the adaptive equipment.”
The nonprofit serves about 200 veterans and their families each year. They raised $3.5 million last year to cover all costs for the attendees.
While on duty in Afghanistan, former Marine Corps Sergeant Kirstie Ennis was in a helicopter crash in an active combat zone that resulted in severe injuries including facial trauma, a traumatic brain injury, cervical and lumbar spine trauma, and bilateral shoulder damage. Following more than a dozen surgeries, doctors decided to amputate above the knee on her left leg. Having been an athlete for most of her life, Ennis turned to sports as part of her recovery.
The former U.S. Veterans Magazine‘s cover founded the Kirstie Ennis Foundation to provide education and opportunity in the outdoors and to support other non-profits dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals and families. For her dedication to serving others, Ennis will receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service sponsored by Mass Mutual at The 2019 ESPYS presented by Capital One live Wednesday, July 10, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
“After being medically retired from the Marine Corps due to my injuries sustained overseas, I have dedicated my life to serving others in a different way. To receive the Pat Tillman Award and to be associated with a true American hero is a tremendous honor,” said Ennis. “It has taken a village to get me to this point in my life, and I would not be where I am now without the amazing people surrounding me. To me, this is a symbol of community and what it means to pay it forward.”
As part of her efforts to inspire others, Ennis has walked 1,000 miles across Britain for a Walking With the Wounded charity event and in 2013 she competed in the Warrior Games where she took home three gold medals in swimming. In 2017, she decided she would set out to become the first female above-the-knee amputee to summit all seven of the world’s highest peaks and has since climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Carstensz in Indonesia, Mount Elbrus in Russia, and Aconcagua in Argentina. Her most recent attempt to climb Mount Everest took place in April and May of this year, and brought Ennis and her team within 200 meters of the finish line, before they turned back due to life threatening conditions. Ennis is also a Paralympic hopeful in snowboarding.
“Pat lived his life with passion and conviction, driving forward in the face of any obstacle that crossed his path,” says Marie Tillman, Board Chair and Co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “I see that same drive and courage in Kirstie as she continues to push the limits and achieve her best. We are proud to present the Tillman Award to Sgt. Kirstie Ennis for her service and leadership.”
The Pat Tillman Award for Service was established in 2014 to commemorate the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger’s legacy, and honor an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of Tillman. Kirstie Ennis will be presented with the award at The 2019 ESPYS in conjunction with the Pat Tillman Foundation, a national leader in providing academic support and scholarships to veterans, active-duty service members and their spouses. Past honorees include U.S. Paralympic gold medal sled hockey player and Purple Heart recipient Josh Sweeney (2014), and former Notre Dame basketball player, Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green (2015), U.S. Army Sgt. and Invictus Games gold medalist Elizabeth Marks (2016), and Purple Heart recipient and Invictus Games gold medalist Israel Del Toro (2017), and Navy-Marine Commendation Medal recipient, Sergeant Jake Wood (2018).
The ESPYS helps to raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the charity founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jim Valvano at the first ESPYS back in 1993. ESPN has helped raise close to $97 million for the V Foundation over the past 26 years. Tickets are available for public purchase at AXS.com. The ESPYS are executive produced by Maura Mandt and co-produced by Maggievision Productions.
About The ESPYS
The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The show recognizes achievements in categories such as “Best MLB Player,” “Best Team,” “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Upset” and inspiring human stories are showcased through three pillar awards: the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and the Pat Tillman Award for Service. The ESPYS support ESPN’s ongoing commitment to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, launched by ESPN with the late Jim Valvano in 1993.
ABOUT THE PAT TILLMAN FOUNDATION
In 2002, Pat Tillman proudly put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following Pat’s death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. Created to honor Pat’s legacy of leadership and service, the Pat Tillman Foundation unites and empowers remarkable military veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self. For more information on the Pat Tillman Foundation and the impact of the Tillman Scholars, visit PatTillmanFoundation.org.