Friday, June 29, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alive Day

On June 30, 2004, Ronnie Simpson’s Humvee was hit by an RPG and his life forever changed.  June 30 is now his Alive Day—the day he miraculously lived.  It is a day that will always be significant and one that he will always remember.  This year on June 30, Ronnie will begin the Singlehanded TransPac Race, a sailing race that begins in San Francisco Bay and ends in Hanalei Bay, Kauai.  It is fitting that this race starts on his Alive Day because in many ways, sailing has saved Ronnie’s life.

Past Voyages
After his injury, recovery and retirement from the military, Ronnie was unhappy, unfocused and without direction.  His brother suggested that someday in the future, they sail around the world together.  Ronnie quickly dropped everything to pursue this new vision.

Within months, Ronnie had sold his home, moved to San Diego, and purchased a boat.  On October 1, 2008, Ronnie attempted his first substantial, solo trip.  His plan was to sail to Hawaii where his brother lived.  His first sailing adventure ended in his second near death experience.  Problems with the equipment and weather forced him to call for help just days into his journey and on October 9, he was rescued by a container ship on route to Shanghai. 

His First Trip Around the World
Ronnie arrived in Shanghai and soon after traveled to Hong Kong with one goal in mind—buy another sail boat.  Unable to find a trustworthy boat at a decent price, he settled on a mountain bike instead.  His solution was to ride his bike west until he reached the Atlantic Ocean.  In 2009, Ronnie biked more than 8,000 miles through 17 countries until he arrived in England.  From there, he caught a flight back to California, completing his around the world trip. 

Warrior’s Wish
Ronnie’s past experience did not stop his desire to sail.  In 2010, Don Gray, the Hope For The Warriors® Board of Director’s Chairman (a Vietnam veteran) stepped in.  He offered Ronnie the use of his boat, Warrior’s Wish, to compete in the Singlehanded TransPac.  Then Ronnie turned to Hope For The Warriors® and our A Warrior’s Wish® Program to pay for race fees and other necessary equipment.  We proudly granted his Wish and on July 4, 2010, Ronnie landed in Kauai, completing his goal to cross the Pacific Ocean.
Photo courtesy of LaDonna/Latitude 38

Pay It Forward
When Ronnie finally met Don, he did not know what to say except “thank you.”  Don’s reply was simple—“pay it forward.”  Ronnie was given a mission to help other service members, just as Don and Hope For The Warriors® had helped him. 

Returning to the TransPac
Today, Ronnie has his own boat and with Hope For The Warriors® as his Title Sponsor, he aims to do more than just sail.  Through his racing, he will raise awareness to the sacrifices and needs of our wounded heroes.  The TransPac is just one of the races that Ronnie will compete in this year.  It is also only one of his sailing goals.

Giving Back
There is no doubt to Ronnie that sailing saved his life and now he introduces others to the sport he loves.  In April, Ronnie held a sailing clinic for wounded service members to teach each of them how to sail.  With the help of adaptive sailing boats, conventional sailing boats and support from the San Francisco sailing community, Ronnie gave five wounded veterans the gift of sailing.  One of the participants summarized it best when he said, “This is the best day I’ve had since I got shot.”

The Odyssey Begins
This Saturday, Ronnie will once again leave the shores of San Francisco and head towards Hawaii.  To keep up with Ronnie’s progress, visit  We will also post on our Facebook wall: 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Family Focus

It started with a TV show. 
Memorial Day 2011, Wyatt Larkin, a teenager from Georgia, watched the golf channel with his father.  In honor of the day, the Golf Channel had two special guests on their programs—both combat wounded veterans who have worked with Hope For The Warriors®.  Wyatt watched the program and was immediately moved by their sacrifices.

Wyatt is an amazing golfer who began playing as soon as he learned to walk.  He is a member of the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) and is part of the Leadership Links program.  The Leadership Links program focuses on developing young men and women by teaching charitable giving skills and service-oriented practices at an early age.
After Memorial Day and through this program, Wyatt decided to focus his fundraising and service work on military families.  On his fundraising page, Wyatt explains why he has chosen Hope For The Warriors®:

“This charity supports the men and women of our Armed Forces, who risk their lives daily so we can enjoy our freedoms here at home. The organization provides specialized services for the minds and bodies of our returning soldiers, their families and the families of those who have fallen.”
Wyatt and his father meet one of the veterans

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Honoring Kingwood's Fallen

No city or town wants to be home of a fallen service member.  Sadly, the people of Kingwood, TX understand this pain all too well.  They have lost three young men, each who graduated from Kingwood High School.  Each man had spent many years, some their entire lives, in the Houston area before answering the call to serve in the military.

A group in Kingwood created a golf tournament with the goal to honor these three fallen heroes.  They also chose to raise funds for two nonprofits, Hope For The Warriors® and the Blue Star Mothers of America.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday's Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words.

James Wesley and Randy Travis perform for the Gala guests
Photo provided courtesy of Paul Oberle

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Father's Day

This Sunday is Father’s Day and Hope For The Warriors® would like to thank the fathers of our military members.  Parents have made huge sacrifices to care for their wounded sons and daughters.  Many have quit their jobs to stay at bedside and life savings have been drained.  There are countless stories of love and devotion and today I share just one.

In 2006, Colin, a Marine, deployed to Iraq and was severely wounded by an IED.  Suffering from severe traumatic brain injury, the parents were told that their son would not walk or talk again.  His father, Bob, refused to listen and Bob left his job to stay at Colin’s bedside at the medical centers. 
Bob and Colin at the Medical Centers