BRAC Relocated Volunteers Raise Thousands
The Support Our Heroes Military Ball reached Aberdeen Proving Ground with high expectations of financial support for severely wounded soldiers and their families. The mission was considered a tremendous success with approximately $300,000 raised for the charity, Fisher House Foundation, Inc.
An evening in the courtyard under the tents at the C4SIR Campus, Support Our Heroes Ball was attended by business professionals, the military and politicians alike. The military ball brought a host of BRAC relocated volunteers, as they were challenged to raise awareness and funds for Fisher House.
“I appreciate the role of soldiers, and I think we should do everything we can for them,” Cheryl Davis, Support Our Heroes auction chair explains. “[The soldiers and families] deserve all of the help that we can give them, and some of them are really hurt.”
Why Fisher House?
With the motto, “A Family’s Love is Good Medicine,” Fisher House provides comfortable temporary lodging for families during a wounded warrior’s rehabilitation or extended medical care.
Located at Andrews Air Force Base, Bethesda and Walter Reed, these facilities allow families to stay together while a soldier receives long-term treatment. A third Fisher House is planned for construction in Washington, D.C.’s VA Medical Center.
BRAC Affected Volunteers Step Up to the Plate
It’s no wonder that a group of well-connected volunteers could pull off such a successful event. Most of the team brought prior experience to the fundraising effort since six previous Support Our Heroes events were held at Ft. Monmouth, N.J. Hoping to build on the enthusiasm generated from such previous events, a group of volunteers spearheaded the fundraising endeavor in their new APG location. Kit Roache, founding committee member, explains that most volunteers either work for the government directly or work for contractors and contribute their time and efforts generously.
“For me, it’s from the heart,” Roache says. “We don’t want soldiers coming back to be forgotten.”
Helping Severely Wounded Soldiers
Since the focus of Fisher House is on severely wounded service members and their families, the program actually provides a home away from home so that the service member and their families can recuperate together.
The small group of dedicated volunteers has raised over $1.1 million to date for the Fisher House Foundation. The funds have assisted in the building of a brand new handicap accessible home for SSGT Mike Minard, who lost both legs in Iraq. The Support Our Heroes committee was also successful in getting Minard a job with the government.
Edward Carnes, chairman of the Support Our Heroes Ball and vice president of USfalcon, visited the Fisher House located at Walter Reed and says that he “was immediately impacted by the soldiers” he met at the military hospital. Carnes is retired LTC U.S. Army and recalls that the first wounded soldier he met looked exactly like his youngest son. When the soldier’s mother commented that without the Fisher House, she could not afford to stay in a hotel with her son, Carnes knew that a fundraiser could help the family. Fisher House gave the mother a free room, a rental car and frequent flyer miles.
Carnes says that Support Our Heroes also rallied around a young soldier from Staten Island, N.Y., Brendan Marrocco, who lost both arms and both legs in Afghanistan and very recently, another soldier in need, CPL Colin Pascik, who also lost both legs.
Celebrating Military Traditions
The Support Our Heroes Ball brought the community together for an event that celebrated military traditions. A wounded soldier attended the ball to show people the benefits of the efforts. Jim Costigan, site manager for General Dynamics C4 Systems and retired Army officer, explains that this fundraiser “brought those people outside the Gate in for a very emotional and patriotic evening. We proposed toasts to the President, the nation and the armed services,” he says. “There’s a table set symbolically for fallen comrades who cannot be with us and it’s the last toast before we eat.”
The Support Our Heroes ball entertainment included the 82nd Airbourne, who sang several a cappella numbers. “In the beginning we had a band,” Carnes reminisces. “For the past two years, we have been very fortunate to have the 82nd All American Chorus come up from Fort Bragg, N.C.”
Highly Rated Charity
The charity sent Derek Donovan, vice president of communications for Fisher House, to attend this year’s event and accept the donations. Fisher House Foundation is a four-star ranked charity, according to Charity Navigator. With low operating costs and 96 percent of revenue going to help military families, Fisher House is a favorably regarded charity.
How to Get Involved
Support Our Heroes raises funds year-round for Fisher House and business donations are encouraged. On-going opportunities exist for sponsorships, program ads and silent auction donations for future charity events. If you are interested in learning more information about Support Our Heroes or Fisher House Foundation, visit support-our-heroes.com or fisherhouse.org.