Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hunting with a Hero

On Thursday, December 27, the National Geographic Channel will air their latest episode of "Rocket City Rednecks."  The show will air at 9 pm est/8 pm cst.

If you have never seen this show, now is your chance!  The crew worked with Hope For The Warriors® to identify a wounded service member that would love the chance to go hunting again.  Here is a short segment of the show that will air on Thursday:

This crew of five men with southern accents have several advanced academic degrees between them as well as many years of experience working at NASA.  In the course of the show, they take a regular golf cart and build an All-Terrain Hunting Platform that the wounded veteran can use for hunting. 

Beyond their design genius, what is immediately apparent is their admiration for the men and women in our armed forces.  Travis, aka "The Ringleader" and his father, Charles, have a very close connection.  Charles's has another son in the Air Force who has done four deployments.  They understand on a very personal level the sacrifices of today's military family. 

In taking on this project, the crew had one main goal in mind.  Give a wounded service member something back that he has lost due to his injuries.  The service member highlighted in this program, Philip, is a double amputee. Phil grew up hunting but since his injury, has not been able to enjoy the outdoors. 

The crew created a vehicle that Philip could easily roll his wheelchair onto.  Then with a joy stick and a few buttons, the cart can be driven and then lifted. 

Please tune in tomorrow night for the full episode.  We don't want to give too much away, but we can tell you that the veteran had a great time.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Giving and More

Each year, Hope For The Warriors® matches donors to families in need for the holiday season.  This is separate from our other work but often times, we know families from our other programs that might need some extra help this time of year. 

This year, a store in New Jersey adopted two of our families and it has grown to be so much more than just Christmas presents.  The Maple Tree Gift Shoppe in Seaville, NJ eagerly agreed to purchase Christmas presents for two families.  Each family is led by wounded service member and each have a number of children within the family.

Rosie, the store owner, turns to the town of Seaville for assistance.  As a community, they donated the presents that were on each child's Christmas list.  They also purchased winter coats, pajamas, shoes and more. 

Along with the presents, the town also gave some very practical assistance.  Each family is receiving $250 in gift cards to a local grocery store to help put food on the table.  One customer will also be keeping a family warm this winter.  One of our families has five children and this customer will be paying their electric bill for the entire winter.

This is of course just one of many wonderful stories.  We thank those who have donated so generously to our Holiday Giving Initiative and throughout the year.

Happy Holidays to all!

Donate today

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sailing Success

Jose and Ronnie enjoy the calm ocean
Cpl. Jose Armenta, USMC had always wanted to learn how to sail.  Many might have wondered if he could.  Jose was wounded in Afghanistan in August 2011.  Today he is double amputee and will soon be medically retired from the Marine Corps. 

This fall, Hope For The Warriors was proud to partner with Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS) and hold a sailing clinic for wounded service members.  No sailing experience was required and the nature of injury did not matter.  We were clear--every person could learn how to sail.

This confidence came from the vast amount of experience from BAADS as well as from Ronnie Simpson, wounded veteran.  Hope For The Warriors met Ronnie in 2010 when we granted a Wish to help him compete in his first sailing race.  Our Board of Directors' President, Don Gray, allowed Ronnie to borrow his sail boat.  Ronnie completed a race that left San Francisco Bay and landed in Hawaii on July 4.  His Wish had been granted and his dream was now a reality!

Ronnie in 2010 on his borrowed sail boat/ Photo by Latitude/LaDonna

Two years later, Ronnie turned to Hope For The Warriors for assistance to complete the same race again.  The race started on June 30.  This date was so important because it was Ronnie's Alive Day--the day he almost died in Iraq, eight years earlier.  Only this year on June 30, Ronnie was living his dream of being a sailor.

Photo by Surf City Racing

And so it is with this confidence and excitement that Ronnie led Jose and several other wounded service members to the water and into the boats.  The clinic was an amazing success and many shared how therapeutic the sport was for them--both physically and psychologically.
"Sailing provides me a freedom that is hard to find when you are disabled,” Armenta said.  “By sailing, I can compete with able-bodied people.”
Jose has already competed in his first race.  BAADS loaned him a sail boat and on October 28, he completed the U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship in San Diego.  He plans to continue his sailing.

Ronnie will also continue to sail and with his additional experience, has some amazing adventures planned for 2013. He will also hold four clinics throughout the country so that other wounded service members gain the benefits of sailing.  If you are interested in one of the sailing clinics, let us know

If you are interested in reading more about Ronnie's story and understand how far he has come, read this great article that was in Outside Magazine

Ronnie and Don both have inspiring stories and are available for speaking engagements. Funds for future clinics are raised through these speaking engagements.  Contact Don for more information.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

DC Comics Adventure

Hurricane Sandy has displaced many veterans in the New York/New Jersey area and Hope For The Warriors® has worked hard to help those veterans.  Many are living with family or friends, and still figuring out how to move ahead.

Staff members recently visited one veteran, Andrew, who was living in his mother-in-law's basement with his wife, Julie, and their young son.  The family had lost their home and the majority of their personal belongings.  The plan was to figure out how Hope For The Warriors® could help this veteran.

During their visit, they learned that Andrew was a self-proclaimed "nerdy comic book collector." After spending years collecting his comic books, he had lost his entire collection in the hurricane.  Andrew's favorite character is Batman--a DC Comic character. 

Through some connections, Hope For The Warriors® arranged a visit to the DC Comic offices.  One of the directors, Thomas, gave Andrew and Julie a personal tour.  The couple was led around all three floors, learning everything that goes into the production of a comic book.  They also were introduced to many of the staff members who play key roles in the creation of the books.  The tour included the library which contains copies of every single comic book.

Andrew was invited to select any comic books he wanted to restart his collection. But Thomas had an even bigger surprise.  Jim Lee, an illustrator for the Batman comics, had signed a special edition hardcopy and included a personalized note to Andrew.


Andrew and his wife will not soon forget this day.  As they continue to deal with the challenges left behind after Sandy, we know that this special day will give them hope to keep moving forward, regardless of whatever setbacks might come their way.

Thank you to Thomas and to everyone at DC Comics for making this visit possible!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Warrior's Wish®: Cycling Goals

Wounded service members assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East aboard Camp Lejeune are required to participate within the Warrior Athlete Reconditioning Program.  This is a key part of each service members' rehabilitation.  For one Marine, this program was a welcome addition to his weekly activity.  He became an active member of the WARP Cycling Program and rides 5 - 6 days per week.  In leading up to some major biking events, he was even riding two times per day.
In October, he had two major events on his schedule.  First was a ride from Cincinnati, Ohio to Nashville, Tennessee.  One week later he flew to San Antonio, Texas to participate in the Wounded Warrior Battalion's Regimental Cycling Camp.
The only thing missing was an actual bike.  Through all of the intense training, this Marine was using the battalion-issued bike.  His Wish was for his own road bike, cycling kits, and the gear to ride safely and comfortably.
Hope For The Warriors® understands how important physical activity and athletic goals are to each of our warriors.  We proudly granted this Wish.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Warrior Hope and Care Center

Shannon Maxwell and Robin Kelleher stand in front of the new Warrior Hope and Care Center.
Photos by Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans

On Friday, December 7, 2012, Camp Lejeune officially opened their brand new, state-of-the-art, Warrior Hope and Care Center.  The facility is 37,000 square feet and cost $29 million to build.

And it is beautiful.

The concept for the Hope and Care Center was conceived by Hope For The Warriors® leadership.  In early 2007, they attended the ribbon cutting for the Center for the Intrepid (CFI) in San Antonio.  CFI provides rehabilitation for wounded service members with the goal to return service members to the highest levels of physical, psychological and emotional function. 

Our country and military has come so far in these five years that it is difficult to remember what was happening in 2007 to our wounded service members who returned home.  At the time, some wounded service members were returning from combat and were receiving medical care aboard Camp Lejeune.  However, after their doctor appointments, they were returning alone to an empty barrack's room.  Those in San Antonio were receiving top rehabilitative care, but that was not the case everywhere.

Hope For The Warriors® asked, "What about those that return to Camp Lejeune?"

Architecture plans for a facility on Camp Lejeune were drawn up and Hope For The Warriors® donated those plans to the Marine Corps.  The Marine Corps began work at both Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton.

And now that facility is ready to provide the best care possible to those who have sacrificed so much.

The founders of Hope For The Warriors®, Robin Kelleher and Shannon Maxwell attended and were honored to cut the ribbon.  Five years of hard work and vision finally coming to fruition.  Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Amos was there as well as MajGen Robert Dickerson, USMC (Ret.).  Hope For The Warriors® worked closely with both of these great Marines in the early years of our organization.

Hope For The Warriors® is also represented in the lobby.  A custom-built, Harley Davidson motorcycle sits in the lobby.  A blog on the motorcycle will be coming soon.  Watch for it! 

Stay tuned--this spring, Hope For The Warriors® will unveil monuments in front of both Warrior Hope and Care Centers.  The monuments are being designed and created by artist and Gold Star Father, John Phelps.

View more photos from the Ribbon-Cutting here.

Help our wounded service members, donate today!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Good Deeds

Yesterday, Iraq War veteran and 9/11 First Responder, Chief Petty Officer Colin Redy, USCG (Ret.) and his family received a mortgage-free home in Brick, New Jersey.  The donation of the home is being coordinated through the A Warrior’s Wish® Program from Hope For The Warriors®.
This summer, BCB Community Bank approached Hope For The Warriors® to identify a military family that would benefit from a mortgage-free home.  Through our work with military families and relationships with VA Hospitals and caseworkers, we identified a wounded service member and family in the area.
After reviewing the needs of the family, we realized that the home would require renovations to meet the needs for a family of six.  To complete this project, we have enlisted help from other companies and organizations.  Plaza Construction has provided the architecture plans.  Nonprofit organization Heart 9/11 will be organizing volunteers to complete the work.
Through our A Warrior's Wish® Program, Hope For The Warriors® will raise the funds to purchase the necessary materials to complete the renovations.
A Warrior’s Wish® supports the long-term goal of hope beyond recovery.  Knowing that Wishes can come true directly affects service members’ spirits in addition to the families and communities that support them. Hope For The Warriors® is proud to grant this Wish and work with the Brick, New Jersey community.
To learn more, volunteer, or donate, visit