I once flew to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in a CH-46 Sea Knight with the Marine Corps… and Santa Claus… to deliver toys to an Indian Tribe at Christmas time.
It sounds like the beginning of a joke….or a truly amazing adventure.
It was actually the beginning of my love affair with the United State Military.
Another time, I stood with Colonel Paul Tibbets, Major Thomas Ferebee and Captain Dutch Van Kirk on an airstrip in the blistering Arizona sun and watched history unfold as the men who flew the storied Enola Gay witnessed a Harrier levitate just feet in front of them.
It was magic.
I attended the 1997 Marine Corps Ball and saw the pagentry that celebrated their 222nd Birthday.
My ties to the Military are not bound by blood. I was not raised with the flag of the USMC or the US Navy, the Air Force, the Army, or the National Guard flying outside my home. My commitment comes purely from having listened to the stories, having heard the pride in country, and the loyalty to fellow soldiers…..from the very men and women who have been there, done that.
I haven’t been there, done that. But damn, I respect them.
I respected them more than ten years ago when I was living in what can only be called a military town, cutting my teeth as a newbie reporter and anchor, during a time of peace. And now….having lived safely under their protection during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, I simply ache for the soldiers we have lost and the families they have left behind.
I have often wondered how many of the men and women I knew during my time in Yuma are no longer with us.
Just more than a week ago, my husband and I found out a Navy Seal he knew was among those killed when the Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. This Seal, a father of two - soon to be three – was a member of Seal Team 6 and someone Jeff had met through his best friend in college. While they weren’t close, we have still felt the loss.
And I wanted to do something.
Talk about the stars aligning. Bear with me as I explain.
The very same day we found out about this loss… the very same day… August 8th, I was given a tremendous gift. One that I am able to pass on in honor of the members of Seal Team Six and the other soldiers lost on that Chinook in Afghanistan.
The weekend of July 10th and 11th, my family and I were flown to Phoenix, Arizona to cover the State Farm Major League Home Run Derby. That weekend, State Farm relaunched their Go To Bat initiative with the help of Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr. More than $603,000 was donated to the Boys and Girls Club of America on behalf of State Farm and Major league Baseball as a result of the home runs hit and a little batting from some locals (and Jeff and I).
But the Derby was just the Kick-off…since then, people like you and I have been able to play Go To Bat online for our favorite charities…. There are 40 to choose from. Each week for a total of 10 weeks, State Farm is donating $18 thousand dollars to the ‘winning’ charity. This means…if you have a favorite charity, quit playing Farmville and get with the Go To Bat Program!
As part of my support for the Go To Bat initiative, I was to be given a charitable grant that I could donate however I so chose, to any of the 40 Go To Bat charities. Initially, I planned to create an open forum here on the site to allow readers to help me decide where the money should go. I was unsure of the grant amount at the time.
On August 8th we learned of the loss of 31 US troops in Afghanistan. On August 8th, I received an email with the glorious news that I had been gifted $4,000 as a charitable grant on behalf of State Farm and Go To Bat.
My Charity of Choice, in honor of those 31 soldiers and their families is The Wounded Warrior Project.
I know it doesn’t bring them back. It doesn’t help the kids who won’t have their dads there to tuck them in. But, my hope is that it does honor their service and their sacrifice. And it might help some of the nearly 42,000 men and women who have been wounded since the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
If you would…take 5 minutes and Go To Bat for The Wounded Warrior Project with me. I promise it won’t take long. (In fact, it only takes three minutes) And you just might find a different charity YOU want to Go To Bat For…. The Alzheimer’s Association? The American Red Cross? UNICEF? Susan G Komen? Stand Up to Cancer?
This is what the standings look like this week (as of 3am 8/17 because that? is when I write)…. and remember, the winning charity each week, for TEN weeks gets $18K… that is AMAZING.
Thank you…. for sharing both my sadness and my gratitude….
Please , take those few minutes and Go To Bat. I know there is something that matters to you. (and I would love to know what it is)