Happy New Year to all. The past couple of months have sped by. The AWCF has been quite busy with a number of programs. Two of them, the Christmas Hope program and the delivery of a new van to the Warrior and Family Support Center at the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) are covered in separate articles. The Ralph Parr Pack has done a wonderful job of supporting the Wounded Warriors and their families in San Antonio. We are very proud of their efforts. One sad note has been the loss of the rescue helicopter out of the 48th Wing at Lakenheath. The crew of four were all killed. The AWCF has stepped in and opened 7 IRS 529 College Savings Plans for the children of those killed. This is a picture of the four from Lakenheath.
SSgt Afton Ponce, TSgt Dale Mathews, Captain Christopher Stover, Captain Sean Ruane
We are still working the Navy loss from Norfolk.
Our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners program resulted in providing 37 Thanksgiving dinners and 22 Christmas dinners to the Wounded Warrior families who could not leave the confines of the Walter Reed Military Medical Center (WRMMC) or as we call it, Walter Reed Bethesda (WRB). This has been a program started by Gene and Sharon Russell at the old Walter Reed. It is one of the most popular of the AWCF's various efforts at WRB.
The other major winter program at WRB is the annual Super Bowl party. This year it was on Sunday, 2 February. The AWCF provided a weekend at the Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia to one of the Wounded Warrior families whose ticket number earned that prize. We also brought food and Katz's deli cheese cakes to 10 Wounded Warriors on the Ward. These were Wounded Warriors who were not well enought to join the crowd at Tranquility Hall for the main party. The other activity for the AWCF was an Eagle cane presentation. This year we presented a cane to a Special Forces Captain whose picture we could not show for security reasons. We did have Gary Sinise available to do the presentation. This was his first cane presentation and, hopefully, will not be his last. The picture was taken after the presentation (see below).
Jack Berkut, Gary Sinise, Dave Brog, Hank Cloutier
We are also working with the Gary Sinise Foundation to provide funds for a Wounded Warrior from Marietta, Ohio. The Gary Sinise Foundation is building a house to accomodate him and his wheel chair. Our Ohio River Rat Pack, led by Chuck Rouhier, has donated funds for this Wounded Warrior. The plan is for that presentation to be in conjunction with the house opening.
On another happy note, it looks like George "Pegleg" Peacock left the VA in Tampa on 29 January and is now home.
The Kilimanjaro Warrior climb began on 7 February. Steve Connolly is leading a group of 6 Wounded Warriors, all amputees. We expect that they will be back safe and sound on 21 February.
This is what Steve just wrote to me:
"After over a year of work we are about to embark on the journey. I don't know if I could have pulled it all together without the initiative, support and advice the AWCF provided. You all have been outstanding to work with. We are going to try to update our progress on our blog at www.kilimanjarowarriors.net. We leave the 7th, climb from 10-17 Feb, then have a 3 day safari and return home the 21st."
Thanks to all of you, we are able to grow and continue to help our Wounded Warriors and their families. In the last MIG SWEEP, I mentioned that we have been recognized in the Charity Navigator as a 4-star foundation/charity. In a more recent piece, they have listed us as number one of the top ten charities that operate under $2M per year