Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Simple Act of Kindness Restores Hope

It started when a couple saw a need in their local community and decided to fill the void. Harry and Janice Fenstad built their dream home in 2001 on top of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Lake County, Florida, the highest point on Florida Peninsula. As the Fenstads settled into their new home they noticed that many cyclists would train on the mountain. After a few cyclists stopped Harry to ask if they could drink some water from his garden hose, he decided to set up a cooler at the end of his driveway for the cyclists trekking up the mountain.

What began as setting out a water cooler on weekends eventually turned into a water stop, which the Fenstads manned daily—on a peak weekend they would have to fill up the cooler over six times. The cyclists were grateful for the Fenstad’s generosity and wanted to pay them for putting up the water stop, however, they refused but decided to take donations for veteran and military nonprofits. Harry served in the Air Force from 1963 to 1984 and desired to give back to the military community.

For over a decade, the Fenstad’s water stop has raised money for service members, veterans, and military families. Recently, they were able to raise about $8,000 from cyclists, which Harry matched to make the total $16,000 that went towards buying a motorized wheelchair for a wounded veteran.

Ride Across USA Team

One cyclist, Tracy Draper, who has used the Fenstad’s water stop, connected Harry with Hope For The Warriors®. In June 2014, Tracy served as the team captain of Ride Across USA, a charity team of cyclists who rode from California to Florida in 35 days raising funds and awareness for Hope For The Warriors®. Tracy also wrote a book chronicling her journey with Ride Across USA called, Live It: Riding the Highs and Lows of a Cross Country Dream.

In June 2015, the cyclists of Sugar Loaf Mountain learned that Janice Fenstad passed away. To honor her memory and service to the community, Tracy Draper organized a memorial ride for Janice. The memorial ride raised over $1,000 and about 400 cyclists were in attendance. Since the memorial ride, Harry has donated over $1,200 to Hope For The Warriors®. The love, care, and compassion the Fenstads have displayed for their community is truly inspiring and contagious as seen in all of the cyclists that rode in Memory of Janice Fenstad.

Cyclists line the Fenstad's driveway for the Memorial Ride for Janice. 

Over the past decade, from the office in his home, Harry has been able to sit and watch thousands of cyclist stop at the end of his driveway to quench their thirst, and he is always ready to refill his cooler for the grateful riders.       

If the Fenstad’s story inspired you to give and share hope to the military community consider making a donation today or join our monthly giving program to allow service members, military families, and families of the fallen find restored hope!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Team Hope For The Warriors Member Completes 100th Marathon

John at the 10th Annual Run For The Warriors® in Jacksonville, NC

2,620 miles—that is enough to travel from sea to shining sea across the United States. It is also how many miles John Germain will have run once he completes his 100th Marathon with Team Hope For The Warriors®. Through his journey to 100 marathons, John has run a marathon in all 50 states, his first being the 4th Marine Corps Marathon, in 1979, and his 100th will be the 40th Marine Corps Marathon in 2015, a race with a lot of meaning to John.  

John became a recruit in the Marine Corps in 1978. He began his career, spanning over 30 years, as a Private and finished as a Lieutenant Colonel. After he retiring in 2008, John was the senior Limited Duty Officer in the Marine Corps, and now currently serves as the II Marine Expeditionary Force G-4 Operations Officer at Camp Lejeune.

John first connected with Hope For The Warriors® over a decade ago in 2006 when he became the first volunteer for the 1st Annual Run For The Warriors® in Jacksonville, NC. Since then, he has participated in all ten Run For The Warriors® in Jacksonville and continues to volunteer his time and talent to the organization. 

John will be wearing bib #100 in the 40th Marine Corps Marathon to commemorate his achievement.

Inspired by this story and the incredible athletic feat? Consider joining Hope For The Warriors® in Arizona to Conquer the Canyon, May 5-8, 2016. Stay tuned for more details about registration.

Also, consider making a donation today or join our monthly giving program to allow service members, like John, find restored hope through athletic accomplishments.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Service Member's Journey Through Transition with Hope by His Side

Brad (left) at the 2015 Long Island Shootout For Soldiers

Brad McNamara enlisted in the Army at the age of 29 and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division as an Infantry Paratrooper. His military career has been his proudest accomplishment in his life so far. ‪Before Brad joined the Army he competed in NCAA Division III Athletics, playing both lacrosse and volleyball. Brad was the captain of the lacrosse team, which won a conference championship, and he served as the first lacrosse player delegate to join the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum. After his playing career Brad coached both high school and college lacrosse.

A combination of living in New York City on September 11, 2001, and seeking to jump-start a new career Brad joined the Army. “I was coaching as an assistant for a Division III school, but I felt this need to be a true citizen,” said Brad on his decision to serve his country.

After fulfilling his enlistment contract, Brad had a couple of surgeries from injuries he sustained, and decided to go back to school. In his pursuit to grow in his career, Brad met Hope For The Warriors® in 2009 at the Long Island Run For The Warriors®. Since then, he has been involved in Hope For The Warriors® Career Transition & Education program, which supports the career and educational goals of service members, veterans, and their family members. Brad said that Hope For The Warriors® Career Transition & Education program has, “made me more marketable, and more valuable with my present employment position. Whatever Hope is offering, it works if you set yourself an objective with realistic, manageable goals.”

Currently, Brad is also involved in Hope For The Warriors® Sports & Recreation programs and continues to play lacrosse. He recently was an awardee of the Patriot Award during the 2015 Long Island Shootout For Soldiers 24-hour lacrosse event honoring our military. “Hope For The Warriors® Sports and Recreation platforms have opened up endless opportunities [for me] to meet and connect with various communities,” said Brad. “These encounters have allowed me to engage other service members and their families who may have needed to hear things from the soldier's perspective, from my perspective.”    

Hope For The Warriors® is grateful for service members like Brad who have not only sacrificed and served overseas but also continue to support and care for the military community. Learn more about Hope For The Warriors® Sports & Recreation and Career Transition & Education programs. Consider making a donation today to allow service members to participate in these programs free of cost.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Team Hope For The Warriors Newsletter: October

Register for the Virtual Run For The Warriors® which will take place throughout the country on Sunday, October 25, the same day as the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon. You can also run anytime in the month of October. If you are not in the Washington, DC area for the Marine Corps Marathon, you can still participate by running in the Virtual Run For The Warriors®. Register here:  

 The Virtual Run For The Warriors® raises both funds and awareness for Hope For The Warriors® and the needs of our military families. It can be completed at any location, pace, distance, with a group or as an individual. Once you register you will receive a race packet with a Run For The Warriors® T-shirt, dog tag, and a customizable bib to show people who you are running to honor.

The Marine Corps Marathon and TCS NYC Marathon are almost here:

  • October 25, 2015 – Marine Corps Marathon 10K
  • October 25, 2015 – Marine Corps Marathon*
  • November 1, 2015 – TCS NYC Marathon
*Handcycle friendly race

Fundraising Tip:

Wear your Team gear and jersey to show people the organization you support! As a member of our Team, you can save 10% on all online store items. As you train, be sure to proudly wear the Hope For The Warriors® logo so that people know the reason for your hard work. Visit and use the discount code TEAMH4W.

Training Tip:
Here is a great read, from Runner’s World, before you run in the Marine Corps Marathon:


Great job to the entire team at the Army Ten-Miler on Sunday, October 11! It was an inspiring day of sharing hope and a fun time meeting new Team Members.

Team Member Corner: John Rose
SSgt John Rose first met Hope For The Warriors® while on recruiting duty in New York. Since then, in his own words, “I’ve been hooked on the organization.” John has received two bicycles from Hope For The Warriors® and has participated in everything from golf outings to hunting trips, and has gone to speaking engagements on behalf of the organization. Currently, John is on active duty at Camp Lejeune and serves as the North Carolina Team Hope For The Warriors Captain.

John has been persevering and accomplishing many new goals through a new found love of cycling. Hope For The Warriors® greatly appreciates all of John’s contributions to the organization, his dedication to supporting his fellow Marines, and his perseverance.

Program Information: 

Charity Navigator:
For the fourth year in a row, Hope For The Warriors® has received a four-star rating on Charity Navigator. This exceptional rating, achieved by only 8% of the nonprofits they evaluate, highlights Hope For The Warriors® financial responsibility to the service members, military families, and families of the fallen we support. Team members can continue to ask people to donate towards fundraising goals with confidence! We invite you to view their latest evaluation of our efforts on the Charity Navigator website. 

A Warrior’s Wish®:

This year, Hope For The Warriors® will grant 11 wishes to support service members, veterans, and military families. The nature of these Wishes will vary in scope from business, fitness, financial, and outdoor-related. The enrichment process will continue long after the Wish is granted to promote stability within the lives of these heroes and their families. As the Wishes are granted we will share the stories in the upcoming newsletters. Learn more about A Warriors Wish® For more information please contact Steve Barto at

Rock ‘n’ Roll Series:

The Rock ‘n’ Roll race series has teamed up with everydayhero as their official fundraising platform. You can now run in any Rock ‘n’ Roll event and raise funds for Hope For The Warriors! Beginning March 1st, every race participant will be asked if they want to fundraise on behalf of their favorite cause during the race registration process. When you register and are asked to choose your charity, pick Hope For The Warriors® and you will automatically be given a Rock ‘n’ Roll everydayhero fundraising page!

Run For The Warriors®:

Registration is now open for the following Run For The Warriors® events:
  • 2nd Annual DMV Run For The Warriors® Register
  • ASA Sponsored Run For The Warriors® Register
  • 8th Annual Long Island Run For The Warriors® Register
For the complete list of races visit

Representing the Team:

Be sure to shoot us an email with your race schedule and where you will be wearing your Team jersey. Each time you wear your jersey, you help our mission to restore self, family, and hope. Feel free to share photos and special stories too! 

Important Links For Social Media:

Hope For The Warriors®FacebookTwitter When you tweet be sure to use #TeamH4W
NYCHalf Marathon Team Facebook GroupNYC Full Marathon Team Facebook GroupMarineCorps Marathon Team Facebook Group

Friday, October 9, 2015

Roll Tide: Restoring Hope Through Football and Cycling

SSgt John Rose first met Hope For The Warriors® while on recruiting duty in New York. Since then, in his own words, “I’ve been hooked on the organization.” John has received two bicycles from Hope For The Warriors® and has participated in everything from golf outings to hunting trips, and has gone to speaking engagements on behalf of the organization. Currently, John is on active duty at Camp Lejeune and serves as the North Carolina Team Hope For The Warriors Captain.

John enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2001 where he became a Motor Transportation Operator. In 2010, while on deployment, John was hit by an IED and sustained multiple injuries. Through his recovery process his strength, wit, support system, and athletic pursuits have helped him persevere, setting and accomplishing many new goals.  

Cycling has been an important part of John’s rehab. Due to his injuries and loss of balance he started off riding a recumbent bicycle. However, with his continued focus on rehab and amazing support from his fellow Marines, he is now riding an upright bike.

Riding an upright bike brought some new challenges and John needed a bike with a few unique specifications to meet his needs. Hope For The Warriors® worked with Jack Kane Custom Racing Bicycles to create a bike that would allow John some comfort while riding. John’s wrists and arms start to go numb after a short period of riding due to limited wrist mobility. This makes shifting gears difficult, so an electronic thumb shifter was added to his bike, along with a custom handlebar with extra tape to improve his riding experience.  

To complete John’s new ride, Hope For The Warriors® and Jack Kane Custom Racing Bicycles surprised him with a unique finish to the bike. John is a diehard Alabama fan so it was decided that the bike should have a paint job inspired by the school’s football helmet and Bear Bryant's, Alabama’s football coach for 25 years who won six national championships, iconic houndstooth hat.

The white stripe on the top tube of the bike represents the stripe on the helmet while inside the front fork and rear chain there is the mark of the houndstooth pattern. Next was the handlebar tape, which features Alabama and their iconic “A” logo. Hope For The Warriors® had to get special permission from the school to use their logo on the tape, and John is the only one with this particular tape.   

The tape is more than just an accessory to the bike. It serves as a symbol and reminder, not only to John but also to all service members, that Hope For The Warriors® will work relentlessly to meet their needs to show them that they are not alone in their recovery process.

Hope For The Warriors® greatly appreciates all of John’s contributions to the organization, his dedication to supporting his fellow Marines, and his perseverance. Consider joining Hope For The Warriors® as we seek to give service members the opportunity to pursue and meet their athletic goals as part of their rehabilitation. Donate today!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How the Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship Helped Me Find My Voice in Art

By Sarah Dale        

In the fall of 2014, thanks in part to a Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship I received from Hope For The Warriors®I began pursuing my Masters of Fine Art degree at American University. As I began studying how to take my amateur art practice to the next level, building a professional fine art practice, I noticed the artists I admired most were pursuing something they were deeply passionate about. They pushed their ideas to the fullest potential, digging deep into their subject matter because that’s what makes great art.

As I looked around my studio full of trash (yes, it was literally full of trash as I was making art out of discarded materials) I decided to follow a new path. I began exploring a very difficult subject matter for me: being an angry Army wife. As I started to express this to my professors they were very intrigued. One commented, “I don’t even know what that means – what does it mean to be an angry Army wife?” I then posed the same question to myself wondering, what does that mean?

At the time I was angry because there were many factors making my life very difficult and yet I felt I couldn’t do anything about them. What I didn’t know then was that my husband was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and I was developing Secondary Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Secondary PTSD). My husband spent years struggling to receive help from the Veterans Administration (VA) because his injuries, both mental and physical, were invisible. When we couldn’t get the help we needed we were both stuck, feeling powerless, and when you are powerless long enough it starts to make you angry.

I began exploring this subject matter first in painting, which meant I used a lot of red paint, a color that matched my anger as seen in my painting titled, The Pentagon.
The Pentagon, painting by Sarah Dale

 I also tried a performance titled, Support Our Troops, in which I dressed like a 1950s housewife and carried around my husband’s box of old army gear – everything left from his time in the Army National Guard – a box we will carry around with us our whole lives. I didn’t talk with anyone about the box during the performance because I felt I wasn’t allowed to talk about it in real life.

Support Our Troops, performance by Sarah Dale
At that point I started wondering if there were others like me out there – partners of veterans who felt helpless about their situation. That’s when I developed an ongoing community project online titled by the group Instagram handle, VeteranSpouses.

  VeteranSpouses community project started by Sarah Dale
I use Instagram to find snapshots of the real-life veteran spouse experience and then repost them to the group feed. I avoid images and text we are all used to seeing, such as happy photos of women welcoming home soldiers, and instead search for images usually hidden from mainstream media like PTSD medication arriving in the mail, signs asking neighbors to be courteous with fireworks, and red night lights used around the house to name a few examples I’ve found thus far.

The more I search for images and text the more I am amazed at the bravery of these fellow veteran partners. It takes guts and vulnerability to share difficult moments with the whole world online, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that two incredible things happen when we do share pieces of our veteran spouse experience.
REBOOT Combat Recovery Leadership Academy, Arlington, VA, 2015

First, we experience healing every time we share our burdens with the world because we are no longer the only one carrying them. Sharing my experience through my art has lifted my burden in ways I didn’t know were possible. Secondly, other loved ones of veterans find out they are not alone. My husband and I didn’t get the help we truly needed until we met some amazing people at REBOOT Combat Recovery who have walked with us through our healing journey in incredible ways.

If you’d like to join the VeteranSpouses community online simply follow us on Instagram and start sharing your content with us using #VeteranSpouse. We’d love for you to join us in sharing your experience. Trust me, it is liberating and can be truly life changing.

You can follow Sarah Dale and her art using the following social media platforms.

Hope For The Warriors® is currently accepting applications for the Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship until October 16th, 2015. The Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship Program identifies, recognizes, and rewards post-9/11 spouses/caregivers for their strength, fidelity, and resolve despite adversity. Scholarships aid in continued education at a reputable, accredited university, college, or trade school for spouses/caregivers as they assume critical roles in the financial well being of their families. Click here to apply for scholarship details and application.