Monday, September 13, 2010

September 11, 2010

Soldiers’ Angels sponsored their 5th Annual Jersey Shore Trip for wounded/injured/ill service members from Walter Reed Army Medical Center this weekend. Soldiers’ Angels brings these service members and their families to the Jersey Shore so they can have quality time away from the hospital and all the appointments scheduled throughout the week. The only “scheduled” event is Saturday dinner.

Our warriors started arriving at The White Sands Oceanfront Resort & Spa around noon on Friday. They were pleasantly surprised when they were told to “Go—have fun. The boardwalk is a block away, the beach is right here. We will see you for dinner at 5:15 tonight”. These war hardened warriors smiled like big kids and took off to enjoy the boardwalk. Dinner Friday night was just a quick meal of subs and the night was theirs to enjoy.

Saturday was the most perfect day. The sun was shining, the temperature was wonderful! They played on the beach digging holes and burying each other; some ventured into the ocean; another guest had never seen the Atlantic Ocean; a few enjoyed the Spa services at The White Sands; most went and enjoyed boardwalk food. Of course, I had to tell them about the waffles and ice cream!

Saturday evening, it was off to Point Pleasant Beach Fire Co #2 for a Clambake. Melanie’s Clambakes, out of Tuckerton, has catered for us for the last 2 years and did not disappoint. The food and service was excellent. Our service members and their families feasted on lobster or chicken, clams, red potatoes, corn on the cob and watermelon. Then to end the night, the fire company took them for a ride in a fire truck.

Yes, Sunday was raining, but it did not “dampen” any spirits. They slept in until 9 and it was time to head back to DC. The smiles on the faces of the warriors and their families were priceless!

Yes, it was the weekend of September 11. What an honor it was to be in the company of real heroes!

A big thank you to Patti Patton Bader, Ana-Marie Smith and the Board of Trustees for making this weekend happen. To the “DC Team” and the “Jersey Angels” who worked so hard—I am proud to stand with you. Anthony deserves a special thank you for setting up and breaking down the fire company hall for us. Geordie and Construct Marketing—Thank you! It was a pleasure to meet you and look forward to seeing you again. Thank you to The White Sands, Melanie’s Clambakes—you rock! To anyone that I have forgotten, please know this “old Jersey Angel” thanks you from the bottom of her heart for making this an unforgettable weekend for these heroes!
Alas--I forgot my camera :( I will post some pictures later when Lynda emails me some that she took.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Off Topic—Kinda Sorta

I received this email from Granny the other day and it got me to thinking about the wonderful people I’ve met on this remarkable journey as a volunteer with Soldiers’ Angels over the past 6 years

Here’s the email:

i have a lot of granny adventure stories that i write to the troops...but i guess the one that sticks in my mind the most is after katrina...i am a single ole woman,,,an i was living in a fema camper that really was in bad shape,,,i went daily to fema an asked for help,,,,they never could fix leaked an smelled like gas...well,,,i kinda lost i really lost it...i talked to my soldiers angel mentor daily...she could see that i was having a hard time....we had never met face to face...but emailed an talked with each other on the phone....i remember sittin in the computer tent talking with her,,,cryin,,, daugther offered to pay her flight to i had no family close by....well,,,my mentor had never flown in her life an would not fly as she was very scared...i asked her please finally,,,,she did...Lynette flew here an stayed with me for a week...helped me mentally,,,a lot...just imagine someone that u really didn't know coming when u r at the bottom of the u really didn't know each other....i will never forget her,,,an what she did....i kinda think that is what we do for the soldiers...we are all there for them....

What Granny neglected to say was that during her time of crisis, she was also there as a support for me while recovering from major surgery that I’d had earlier that August. So while she cried to me—she was also there while I cried to her. She was the first person to make me laugh about “the new me” and I still giggle about it when I think about it and her "tattoo" idea.

Volunteering with Soldiers’ Angels is a remarkable experience in so, so many different ways. Yes, you support the warriors-both deployed and Stateside. That alone is a fantastic experience. In fact, I am still in touch with the wife of the first soldier we “adopted” and hope to meet them this fall.

What is even more priceless, to me, is the friendships that have come from my time with Soldiers’ Angels. I have been blessed with the dearest friends since joining. Friends who have provided me support while going through the next chapter in my life. Having these ladies in my life, with their uncontrollable laughter, their “I’ve got your back” attitudes, and their unconditional friendship has been a delight and I am thankful for them each and every day. We may come from different parts of the country, but the friendships are those as close as sisters.

The warriors and their families that I’ve come to know during these times have each taken a piece of my heart. Thankfully, my heart is as big as my “butt” so I still have a lot of heart to give……and you do give a piece of your heart every time you meet one of our warriors—whether an active duty warrior, a wounded/injured/ill warrior, or a veteran.

And for all this, I can say “thank you” to Patti Patton Bader for seeing that “something” in me when she and I first spoke so many years ago. She saw the woman inside waiting to “grow” and helped me to the place I am today—not only in Soldiers’ Angels, but in my life. Had you told me in school, I’d be doing what I’m doing today and meeting the people I’m meeting today, I would not have believed you. Believe it or not—I was very quiet in school, keeping to the background and keeping my opinions to myself. LOL I know—those that know me now, it’s hard to believe!! Patti--There aren’t enough words to say thank you.

To each and every one of you that touched my heart—thank you!!

God Bless you all and GOD BLESS AMERICA and OUR TROOPS!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. Most have plans made for the "3 B's"--BBQ, beer and beach. I'll add a 4th B in there for my family--Anthony's birthday. Many do not know what Memorial Day really means........a day that commemorates United States men and women who died while serving our country in military service. We must never forget their sacrifices nor should we ever take the freedoms they died protecting for granted. Freedom is the greatest gift--we should always remember these heroes and their sacrifices.

Many different thoughts have passed through my mind while putting this piece together. Thoughts of the men and women from wars gone by and from OEF/OIF who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that future Americans can live in freedom. I remember stories my mom has told of fellows she knew from WWII who didn't make it back. So, so many. Thoughts of the men and women who have returned home with injuries and illnesses--some that can be seen and other injuries that can not be seen--and passing from those same injuries and illnesses. I am humbled by the bravery, courage and patriotism shown by these warriors and the strength of the families left behind.

As we gather with friends and family this weekend, take some time to remember those that sacrified so much for us and remember their families, too.

.....................and if you see a veteran, please say "Thank you".

God Bless All.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wounded TLC Team

One of the truly special aspects of being a member of Soldiers' Angels Wounded Team is the opportunity we get to reach out, not only to wounded warriors, but also those who have been injured and those who are recovering from illness. Unlike many other organizations, we care for all of them, regardless of what brought them to the military hospital.

Although our weekly visits offer great comfort and assistance, our Wounded TLC Team brightens our warriors' days. This team works tirelessly, sending out cards and letters of support to those recovering. Many a time, a warrior has approached me with the biggest smile on his/her face, beginning his sentence with "I went to the mailbox today..." They don't need to finish as I know what they found: a bundle of cards from Angels all over the country, wishing them well. As the warrior recovers, it is not uncommon for our Wounded TLC member to not hear back, yet they keep sending the words of encouragement, every single week.

During my last weekly visit, Mrs. P sat to chat with me for a little bit. Her husband is currently being treated for brain cancer and to say it has been a difficult road for both of them is an understatement. She has struggled, as so many other caretakers do, to take care of her spouse and yet remain strong herself. I asked if her husband had begun receiving letters yet and she just lit up. "YES! And my husband reads every single letter, and he smiles the entire time he is reading them!" She was amazed at the amount of letters and the wonderful thoughts that were sent in each one. It never ceases to amaze my warriors and their families that total strangers take the time and care enough to send these lovely cards and letters. As the average recovery time now closes in on 2 years, the cards and letters truly do mean the world to the warriors. So many of them tell me how they keep every letter, in hopes of one day writing back to say thank you or just as a reminder of all the support they received from those for whom they sacrifice. Long after the media has lost sight of their story, or their friends and acquaintances return to their lives, our Wounded TLC Team continues to remind our warriors that we DO care, and deeply.

Dear Wounded TLC Team, keep up the great work and know you are making a difference, one word, one card, one letter at a time...



Working with our wounded/injured/ill warriors, we see the "can do" attitude. We've seen these warriors decide not to let their "new normal" defeat them, but grab onto the challenge and roar into their "new normal" with no looking back. Their attitudes are remarkable. Now, they show the world!!

This week, May 10-14 an exciting event is taking place for our wounded/injured/ill warriors. The Inaugural Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, CO. 200 wounded/injured/ill warriors from all services will be competing in cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball, swimming, sitting volleyball, shotput and more.

Keep checking this
here for daily updates.

Sometimes, there are no words but "WOW!"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

I just wanted to take a moment to send out warmest holiday wishes to all the moms, especially military moms. Whether it is your son, daughter or your husband who has heard and answered the call to serve, please accept our heartfelt thank you. If you are a mom serving, we send out an extra warm Thank You. All of you give so much more than anyone will ever know, yet you do it unflinchingly and show a strength of spirit few will ever have. We are forever grateful for your grace and acceptance that you are part of something bigger than yourself. Your quiet pain and steady heart are a gift to us all, whether we realize it or not. How we wish we could take away the weight caused by the sacrifices you make on behalf of others. And how we wish there was a way to show our true gratitude for all you have done and all you continue to do.

Thank you, to the wonderfully strong women who quietly protect our nation, who watch over us and who make us so proud to call ourselves Americans...


Monday, April 26, 2010

Anything is possible, part II

For the fourth year, I was fortunate to volunteer at the Face of America ride, a 110 mile bike ride from Washington, D.C. to historic Gettysburg. This year, there were close to 400 riders, which included close to 70 wounded warriors. All branches of the military were well represented, as well as civilians and other disabled athletes.

While this is not my first, and certainly not my last year, I remain humbled by the determination and stamina of our wounded warriors. Many of the warriors ride recumbent bikes, relying on just their upper body strength to power them across the many miles and ruthless hills. Since this is a ride and not a race, everyone works together to make it from one point to the other. Every rider who is able will help out those who are struggling.

I, along with Melissa, Teresa, Lynda, Meghan and Mike, had the pleasure of assisting our wounded warriors at the various rest stops. We transported their wheelchairs to each rest stop, so the riders could take a break from being on their bikes. We made sure they had anything they needed, whether it was something to drink or eat, rain ponchos, or just assistance getting to their wheelchairs. Whatever they needed, we were there. A special shout out to our navigators: Meghan, Lynda and Mike. Without your wonderful sense of direction and mad map reading skills, we were able to arrive at each location well ahead of the riders and have their wheelchairs ready. Thank you also to "my girls" Abby and Rachel. These lovely young ladies jumped right in and were able to assist us in so many ways. Whether it was helping us through a hectic registration, assisting in the care of Willie (one of the rider's service dog) or helping to distribute food at the rest stops, these gals were fantastic.

On a ride this long, you get to know the riders. Many are familiar faces from years past, many are new. It is wonderful seeing old friends and making new ones. Once you participate in this event, whether as a rider or volunteer, you cannot help but look forward to the next one. The ride grows in number each year, as does the pageantry. I cannot imagine the amount of man hours that go into planning and executing such an event, yet it runs almost seamlessly each year.

It is the final moments of the ride that pull at your heartstrings. All the riders gather together to arrive at the same time. The recumbent bikes lead the way, making their way the final few feet, while crowds cheer them on, as a majestic American flag waves them all in, perched high atop the ladder of a firetruck. Banners with notes of encouragement and gratitude have greeted our riders every step of the way, from the starting point, at every rest stop and then at the very end. Emotions run high; admiration, respect and pride are just a few felt by both the riders and spectators.

I encourage all to do what you can to be a part of this extraordinary event. If you can give of yourself for just a bit, more if you're able, you will be amazed, humbled and deeply touched by the perseverance of our wounded military servicemen and women who participate, who show us once more, anything is possible...


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Anything is possible, part I

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the USA Hockey Disabled Festival. There were all ages represented, but my main reason for going was to see the warriors from WRAMC (Walter Reed Army Medical Center) battle it out with warriors from BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center). This was a sled hockey competition and if you thought ice skating standing up, using both legs was rough, you should try balancing on a thin blade while seated, using only your upper body strength and hockey sticks to race you across the ice. Now try this missing one or both legs. There was a bit of everything out on the ice, but mostly, I witnessed courage and determination.

2008's Miss Virginia sang a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before the start of the game. With my hand over my heart, it was impossible to keep a dry eye as I realized I was in the presence of some of the bravest young men I have had the pleasure of knowing, who's wounds may run deep, but they gladly sacrificed on our behalf.

What proceeded were 3 fast paced periods of 14 minutes each. I was rooting for the USA Warriors team, as it was made up of many of my Walter Reed warriors. However, as it turned out, there was also at least one Walter Reed alum on the San Antonio Rampage. I found myself just enjoying the game and marveling at the speed and skill of these athletes.

All in all, it was a great game; the USA Warriors fought tough, but the Rampage ended up with the victory. It wasn't just a great game; it was an inspiration, watching these wounded warriors working hard and never giving up, showing me once again, that anything is possible.

Stay tuned for part II in two weeks, when the Face of America bike ride brings together riders of all ages
and athletic ability, but it will be the recovering wounded/ill warriors, past and present, that will bring tears to your eyes as they cross the finish line after a grueling 110 bike ride from Washington, D.C. to historic Gettysburg...

Monday, January 25, 2010


It’s getting to be that time again. Soldiers’ Angels has partnered with World T.E.A.M. (The Exceptional Athlele Matters) Sports in this wonderful event, which has able bodied riding alongside disabled bodied riders. This is a “ride” not a race. All ride together-finish together.

The ride takes place April 24 & 25, from Washington DC to Gettysburg PA. Covering 110 miles over 2 days, the route goes through scenic Maryland and ends in historic Gettysburg PA.

Plans are progessing wonderfully. Participants are registering on a daily basis and the ride is growing! I can not begin to tell you how exciting this event is--for both the participants and volunteers!! Exciting things are planned!

Soldiers' Angels has quite a few members participating in a number of areas. Some are riding, others are volunteering, MANY are making banners of support and encouragement that will be hung at the Kick-off Dinner, the rest stops and the End of Ride Celebration.

If you would like to have an experience you won't soon forget, register to participate--whether as a rider or volunteer. Amazing things happen when people come together and work together for the good of all.