Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Paralympic Coach Gains New Wheels from HOPE

Handcyclists at the start of the Long Island Run For The Warriors

As Sergeant Major Kevin Bittenbender and his eight comrades—all on handcycles—started the Long Island Run For The Warriors® 10K, the streets were lined with thousands of grateful Americans who stood cheering as they thanked the service members for their sacrifices. About 30 minutes after the race started, the first of this group began to reach the finish line. Each of the nine service members who received a handcycle carries a unique story of service, athleticism, patriotism, and perseverance: here is just one inspiring story of many.



Military Service
Kevin, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, enlisted with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1985. Throughout his time of service he has been deployed three times for Operation Enduring Freedom: once to Europe and twice to Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Kevin was involved in nation building as he assisted, trained, and advised many units. Currently, he serves as a Senior Intelligence Sergeant (G2) with the 28th Infantry Division. Beyond his military career Kevin has a passion for sports and is dedicated to volunteerism.

Volunteer Service
In 1985, Kevin began to represent the Pennsylvania Army National Guard as a Winter Biathlon athlete and was ranked in the top 50 of the sport by the US Biathlon Association. He has also won numerous awards and has come in first place in many marksmanship competitions. In 2010 Kevin took his talent, years of training, and expert knowledge and became the U.S. Paralympics Biathlon/Nordic Shooting Coach. He volunteers his time coaching and traveling with the team, offering his skill to serve others.



Beyond his involvement in the Paralympics, Kevin continues to spend his time giving back to the community and volunteering with many different organizations. For the past two years, he has organized the Freedom Bike Ride, which takes place in Lewisburg, PA. The cyclists, including handcyclists too, ride 200-miles over four days starting in Washington, D.C., and finishing in Lewisburg, PA as they lead the county’s annual 4th of July parade. Kevin also volunteers with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and coaches many soccer teams. His altruistic attitude serves as an example for his local community and is inspiration for all who know his story.



As members of the Long Island community lined the finish of The Long Island Run For The Warriors® a tiny blur of a handcyclist crest the horizon. The cheers of the crowd grew louder as this first handcyclist approached. Being true to his athletic nature, Kevin was that first handcyclist. He was met by the warm applause of his fellow Americans who stood in awe of his perseverance and strength.


Thank you to Island Federal Credit Union and Angel Bikes for donating the nine handcycles for our warriors.  Thank you to the Long Island community for your amazing support!

The 2015 Run For The Warriors race schedule will soon be announced.  Be sure to follow on Facebook to learn more and sign up for our newsletter.






Thursday, November 20, 2014

#tbt No Man Left Behind Monument

Hope For The Warriors® is still so humbled by last week's unveiling of the No Man Left Behind Monument, which we are beyond proud to share with the Marine Corps aboard Camp Pendleton. 

The first No Man Left Behind Monument was unveiled at Camp Lejeune in 2013.

The iconic photo, Hell House, captured in Fallujah by acclaimed combat photographer Lucian Read

The iconic photograph depicts then 1stSgt Bradley Kasal, USMC, risking his life for the lives of his Marines. In turn, two of his Marines, Lance Corporals Chris Marquez and Dane Shaffer, risked their lives to carry him out of the building called "Hell House." 

The monument was created by Vietnam veteran, artist, and Gold Star Father John Phelps to honor those wounded in the line of duty and those who never returned home. John's son, LCpl Chance Phelps, USMC, was killed in action in April 2004. 

Hope For The Warriors is pleased by the opportunity to unveil the monument at Camp Pendleton, where it sits as a reminder of the ultimate price of battle, the spirit of brotherhood, and dedication known by service members and their families. 

The No Man Left Behind Monument was Unveiled at Camp Pendleton on November 12, 2014.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hope For The Warriors® Makes List of Top Veteran Charities

We are very excited to announce that we have made CNBC's list of Top 10 Charities that Support Veterans. The list is based in part on Charity Navigator's rankings for each charity's financial health, accountability, and the transparency of reporting. 

According to the article, Hope For The Warriors® stands out for aiding "military families as they transition into civilian life."

We are thrilled to be recognized amongst such an incredible group of nonprofits. We are exceptionally proud to be this group's representative of support to the entire military family. Please read CNBC's full list to find out more information: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102183350. 

The link has already been shared on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so please do your part to spread the good news! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

#tbt Long Island Run For The Warriors® 2012


This Sunday is the 7th Annual Long Island Run For The Warriors® in Lindenhurst, Long Island. This photo is from the 2012 race and features two ReWalkers, who participated in the Spinal Cord Damage Research Center at the James J Peters VA Medical Center in Bronx, NY. The ReWalk is a robot-assisted exoskeleton and permits a person with motor-complete paraplegia to stand, walk over ground, and ascend/descend stairs. It was an emotional experience for everyone in the community to be part of.

For more information on the Run, visit the official race site. We hope you all will join us!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Team Hope For The Warriors Member Runs His Last NYC Marathon


West Point student and Queens native Jack Rosenhammer will be running his last New York City Marathon this Sunday, November 2. He plans to be active duty Army after graduating this year.

Before attending West Point, Jack lived in Middle Village, Queens his entire life. Despite having no running experience under his belt before running the NYC Marathon, he still finished. On what it meant to him to run it as a New Yorker, Jack said, “I’m not a fan of running, but that’s a once in a lifetime experience.”

Jack joined Team Hope For The Warriors® in 2010, participating in the NYC Marathon with a full rucksack.
He attended St. John’s University in Queens for two years before attending West Point, where he applied four times. He knew he needed something special to set him apart to get accepted. After Google searching charities that would allow him to volunteer with the NYC Marathon, he found Hope For The Warriors®. “I just wanted to find the easiest way to join the Marathon without running, so I figured I could ruck it,” Jack said. “I rucked it for two years and thought my participation and motivation would get me into West Point.” The Academy saw how dedicated Jack was to enroll and finally accepted him.

With four NYC Marathons and a West Point Half Marathon under his belt, Jack has become quite a dedicated runner, especially to this beloved Marathon.
“I actually would like to train now that I’ve seen I can do it. I have to put in a little more effort, even just to beat my time from last year.”

He went on to say:

[As a New Yorker] This is our race, this is our thing, people talk about it and it’s a big deal for us. It’s the Superbowl of running. I’ve seen people there that I’ve gone to high school with, and just all these people come out. I remember my second year running the Marathon, just before you cross over the bridge to the Bronx, my feet were hurting and some kid walked with me for five or six blocks and I was eating his oranges. Random strangers come out to support; one guy grabbed my hand when I was struggling and ran with me.
Last year’s marathon was especially near and dear to Jack. He got engaged at mile 25.5 in Central Park South just before entering the park again. He and his fiancĂ© plan to marry after Jack’s graduation in 2015.

Having supported Hope For The Warriors® all through college has established Jack as quite the leader. He has made it his mission to stick out amongst the crowd to bring attention to not only Hope For The Warriors® but also the growing needs of our military.

“I support the service. You see people running for different reasons and charities, but nobody on the sidelines is paying attention to that. When you see someone who sticks out in the crowd they think there are people out there that actually need help.”

We wish Jack all the best in the NYC Marathon, as well as with his final year at West Point. Hope For The Warriors® is extremely grateful for his representation of our mission over the years and we’re excited to see all his future holds!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

#tbt New York City Marathon 2010


This photo is of the first time our Team Hope For The Warriors® participated in the NYC Marathon, which is this Sunday, November 2. This was the first group of runners at the pre-race dinner (note: the man in the green shirt in the back right and woman in black on the far right end met running for the Team that year, and have since got married and just welcomed their first baby!). 

Good luck to all the runners and volunteers this Sunday!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wall of Honor


I, (NAME), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Each year on Veterans Day, Hope For The Warriors® honors the thousands of Americans who have served this country—past and present.  These are the men and women who have raised their right hands and recited the words above. We honor veterans spanning multiple generations throughout this country. 

Who do you honor?  Do you honor a parent or grandparent, sibling or child, spouse or friend who has served our country?  Perhaps you took the oath too—surrounded by friends and comrades who served with you through times of war and peace. Sadly, the service of some led to the ultimate sacrifice. This Veterans Day, we honor their memory.

This year, I am pleased to share the Wall of Honor.  The Wall of Honor will highlight those veterans that each of you remember, honor, and respect.  Throughout the month of November, when you make a donation to Hope For The Warriors®, we hope that you will also include the name of a service member or veteran in the Tribute Section. That name will be added to the Wall of Honor for all of our supporters to read. 

Double Your Donation

One veteran’s name on the Wall of Honor is John Stewart Morton, Jr. After completing his service in World War II, this noble veteran went on to serve another 25 years in the Maryland National Guard. 



For the third consecutive year, The John Stewart Morton, Jr. Gift Fund has offered Hope For The Warriors® a gift matching opportunity. His family will match donations, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000, until the end of the year. This gift matching campaign has been a great success the last two years.  Thank you for all of your support!

The John Stewart Morton, Jr. Gift Fund matching funds campaign has been bolstered this year by an additional $15,000 from the Andrew & Lillian A. Posey Foundation. The two foundations will match your donations, dollar for dollar, up to $40,000.

We hope that you will support us by donating today and share with us the name of a service member or veterans who is important to you.  Thank you for your support!