Old Glory

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day!

It's very surreal that on this day last year I celebrated Veteran's Day very differently and with a different heart.  Tebo and I still celebrated and participated in the honoring our Veterans today at work, but this year it was very bitter-sweet.  I'm still a very proud mom of a Marine.  I'm a sad mom as our blue start turned to Gold and no parent wants that to happen, but my son died an honorable man and doing what he wanted to be doing to protect and help his brothers.  I know my son best and I know without a doubt that he would not change a thing about December 1, 2010 if it meant one of his brothers would have had to take his place.  This I know without doubt.  Would he change the heartache that resulted on that day, absolutely, but he told me personally that he would lay his life down for his brothers and that is just what he did along with every American that has the privilege of living a free life today (including me).  I won't tell you that I haven't cried most of today (all week really), because I have.  I miss him.  My heart hurts in a way that I guess I never knew was possible, but at the same time of all this grief and sadness, I'm so proud.  I'm proud of Chad and I'm proud of my bonus boys that carried on the fight in spite of their broken hearts as well.  They not only carried on the fight, they kicked ass that day and they continue to take care of Tebo and I faithfully.  Hmmmmm.... Marines live by Semper Fi (Always Faithful).  Let me tell you, they are!  I hope I didn't miss telling even one of his brothers in arms thank you for their service and sacrifice today.  I tried to reach out to each and every one of them just so they know that we are still supporting them and loving them for not only loving Chad like they do, but for loving us and taking care of us even today almost a year from the day my precious baby boy went to be with the Lord.  I know he is in a better place and has no pain and no sadness, but it sure is hard not to allow the mommy and human side of me slip out and want him right back so I can let him crawl into freshly washed sheets (with extra Downy fabric softener) and watch him eat up a 2 lb steak that Tebo hand cut and grilled for him.  I long for that crooked smile and that precious sense of humor of his.  I will get that again one day in heaven, but I won't lie and say that I don't take a breath each day wishing it was today. 
If you have not taken a moment to thank a Veteran or any military person currently serving yet today then make it your goal/mission to do so before you lay your head down to sleep tonight.  Unless you have lived with or around someone in the military it is truly difficult to understand what they truly do sacrifice to do this voluntary job and to me it's one of the most honorable jobs a person can do and I will forever be grateful for their service and sacrifices (all of them).  My heart breaks for other Gold Start families, because I know how their hearts are feeling today, but right along with their sadness I know they are full of pride as well. 
Thank you to every Veteran and currently serving military man or woman.  Tebo and I truly appreciate your service and the sacrifices you make and we think of you daily and what you are doing.  If I ever see you in person, I am the one that has no problem coming up to you and giving you a hug or a hand shake and saying thank you.  Sometimes it may come along with a tear or two, but I have a feeling you won't mind. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

We are still moving...

I know it doesn't seem like much is going on, but I promise we are still moving forward.  We've gotten (what we hope) is some of the finally paperwork to the accountant to complete this 30+ page application for the 501 C-3 and once it's completed it can be filed.  Of course, once it's filed, it can take up to 18 months to actually be accepted, BUT, lucky (I hope) for us, I've made friends with a lady that works for that department and she is from a military family and loves this idea that she said she would help push our application through.  I hope she is able to do that and we don't have to wait the full 18 months, but even if we do it will be worth it in the end. 
There is another fundraiser being planned in Asheville, NC on October 8th by my sister and it will be partnered with friends of hers for a wounded warrior.  It already sounds like it has been a huge success just with the participation they've received so I can't wait to hear all about it and share the details and pictures with you. 
Tebo and I were also invited to Memphis, TN to do an interview with a local station there (I will give more details once the interview is complete) to discuss this foundation.  It's exciting and very scary to say the least as it will be a live interview (Eeek). 
People love our military and they want to help.  We just need to get this vehicle up and really running to allow them an avenue to help.

Thank you again in advance for all your support and encouragement.  Some days it can be quite the challenge for me to feel the motivation I need to continue pushing forward with this or anything else for that matter, but you all make it so much easier to take that next step each day.  Even the hard days, you find a way to make it a little easier and I thank you for that.

Good things are coming so just hang on! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembering 9/11 and Chad...

I purposely didn't blog Sunday, September 11, 2011.  It wasn't because I was in a dark place or anything like that.  I got up really early that morning and watched about 2 hours of the 9/11 coverage and it was sad. I'm absolutely blown away by the memorial in NY and would love to visit there one day.  There is a petition circulating around the Gold Star Families to try and get a memorial for fallen soldiers added to the site, but not sure when/if that will happen.  So rather than be sad and have a sappy blog regarding 9/11 or Chad I decided I would wait until I completed my baseboards at home and had my cleaning therapy on Sunday and write a more upbeat blog.  So here goes...
The first thing I thought of (like most Americans) was, where was I when I realized what was happening on 9/11/01.  I was working the front desk at the doctor's office I was working at and my first thought immediately went to Chad.  Oh gosh, is he safe?  Is something going to happen at the schools?  That's really all I could think of at that moment.  Then, once I realized I'm sure we were fine here in NW Arkansas, I immediately started thinking of my family on my mom's side that lived in NY very close to the Twin Towers.  Once we were all informed that our family was safe the reality of what took place was so surreal.  Chad was in high school and just focusing on friends and driving and hunting.  Nothing else much mattered at that time for him.  Once he enlisted into the Marine Corps I immediately thought, will he go to war.  Well, at the time, his recruiter really didn't think he had a huge chance of being deployed to a war zone so I didn't allow myself to worry about it.  When we were told he would be deploying the first time in 2009 to Iraq I thought oh no!  They said he probably wouldn't have to go, but I knew he signed up for this and it was his duty.  I could have signed some paper work to keep him from being deployed since he was an only child, but I knew my son couldn't live with himself had that happened and anything happened to one of his buddies so we took it like we were suppose to and it went better than expected.  It is never good when someone is deployed especially in a war zone, but if you had to be fighting in a war at that time, Iraq was the place to be.  He saw some action and he did experience casualties, but nothing like he would eventually experience.  He returned home from Iraq and got married and they started their married lives in CA when he got the news that he would deploying again and this time to Afghanistan.  I was just sick.  Yes, he called to see what I thought he should do and I did not tell him not to go.  I simply told him he had to do what he knew was best for him and what he could lay his head down at night and be at peace about.  With that being said, he chose to go.  I admire and respect him for making that decision, because I know he didn't make it lightly.  He wasn't even at his final destination in Afghanistan a full 6 weeks when his accident took place and he lost his life.  It is a day and time I will never forget the rest of my life and honestly, had the events of 9/11 not taken place there is a very good chance that my son would still be alive today.  The one thing I will not let myself do is 2nd guess the advice I gave Chad on that day he called to ask me what he should do.  I will not regret what I told him nor will I regret the fact that he chose to go.  Chad did what he felt in his heart was the right thing for him to do and since I gave him my word that I would support him 100% when he enlisted it is my obligation to continue to support him now. 
It hurts, don't get me wrong for a second and like the song says, if heaven wasn't so far away I would pack my bag right now.  There isn't one second of my life that I'm not thinking and missing him.  That will never change, but I am still so very proud of him.  My heart breaks for those families that lost someone in all the attacks (not just at the Twin Towers) that day, because they had no warning.  No idea that they were putting their lives on the line that day when they left their homes.  We knew Chad would be in danger.  It's not like you can prepare for something like this, but you at least know that possibility lurks around the corner.  These poor people did not have that.  It was a normal day like any other day and that's all they knew. 
I pray daily that we truly have an end to war.  I don't know if that is realistic or not, but it's what I pray none the less.  I never want another family to ever experience what we have experienced.  It's a sadness that truly is difficult to put into words. 
Tim McGraw has a song about "If you are reading this, I'm already home".  Well, like that song says, Chad use to play like he was a Marine and fighting the bad guys when he was younger and I never dreamed the true brutality of war and that my baby boy with the curls on his head would ever be a victim of such a thing.  I just figured like all other parents that he would get through high school, go to college (or not), and get a job and get married and one day have children of his own and that will be that.  I just knew he would have to help take care of me once I developed Alzheimer's and I would see him turn into a grown man that would almost 100% mimic my daddy.  That's just what I thought.  Well, that wouldn't be the case now and now I have to somehow figure out a way to erase some of those future plans that "I" had in my head would happen for Chad and figure out what I'm suppose to do with the rest of my life for as long as the Lord plans to keep me here.  I know our foundation plays a huge role in this "new normal" life I have and one day if I'm lucky it will be all I do full time, but right now it's just a part (although a huge part).  Every day is basically a training day for how I will get through until tomorrow and I will get there.  Right now happens to be a period where I'm not sleeping much and when I do wake up all I think of is Chad.  Maybe the night will come when I can actually close my eyes and actually sleep and rest, but right now that doesn't seem to be the case.  In the meantime I will continue taking one step and one breath at a time like many other families are doing and try to get to tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sad heart for another family

I had a family reach out to us this weekend to see if we could assist in getting them out to NY from NC to see their son before he deploys and I had to tell them we weren't at a point where we can actually purchase a ticket yet.  It broke my heart.  There is so much red tape involved in setting up a non-profit correctly and legally and to have to tell this mom I couldn't help her through WFOT just broke my heart.  I've had a heavy heart since I read her email.  I don't know how to help her right now since we aren't at the point of being able to purchase tickets yet and not for other military branches outside the USMC.  How frustrating is it to be so close and yet so far away at the same time?  Let me tell you, VERY! 
To update quickly where we are with things right now... We are still in the process of compiling all the necessary paper work for the IRS for our 501C-3 status and then we will file with the IRS and state of AR.  We are recognized by the state of AR right now, but since we are not officially in 501C-3 status we can't start disbursing funds yet.  In addition, since we had to focus on one military branch to start with we aren't able to branch out to anyone other than Marines right now.  The plan would be that other groups involved with other branches will join us in this effort and take it to other branches.  I know this will happen and most everyone will require the 501C-3 status before they will either donate or accept the disbursements to take place.
We truly are close.  I know I keep saying that, but we really are.  It's almost like when you are watching a ballgame and they say there is only 6 minutes left in the game and it still takes 45 minutes for the game to actually end.  That's how it feels right now. 
If anyone out there knows how to help this mom and her husband to get to NY from NC please let us know.  She is trying to get there by September 22nd.  Her son has two small children and they desperately want to get out there to see him before he leaves. 
Thank you in advance for putting your thinking caps on and helping us find a way to help them. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

More than a name on a wall...

A friend of mine sent me this link of a son by the Statler Brothers and it couldn't describe how my heart feels any better.  Thank you LT.  Please listen to this song and know that there are many other moms and dads that are going through this as well (too many) and I am certain it will speak to them as it did me.


So you get a feel for Chad (if you don't know him) so you can see he is more than just a name on a wall, I thought I would share a "memory" in the shape of  a few pictures that I just love of my sweet boy.  I have this t-shirt in my closet (thank you Katie) and I look at it every day and it makes me smile.  I probably bought that t-shirt for him over 6 years ago and that boy wore it all the time.  He just loved it (and it shows).  :)  Then I have the picture of his Titlist hat which I also have (thank you Katie) that as you can tell in the picture that he wore it out too.  You have to see the picture of daddy kissing Chad.  He does this a lot, but he couldn't get enough of kissing that boy.  I just love it.  Chad was always a good sport about it too.  He did love him some BoBo.  Then the memory wouldn't be complete without a little picture of him with his bouncing curls that I loved so much.  He was so dang cute (if I must say so myself).  :)  I hope each of these pictures brings a smile to your face like they do mine. 

His favorite TN t-shirt

His "Titless" (as we call it) hat with Tebo

Getting a kiss from BoBo (again)

Baby Chad with his ringlets

For all Gold Star families, this song is for you as well.  Thank you to all our armed forces for their service and sacrifices and to all the families of these military men and women, thank you as well.  We know it's a commitment that extends throughout the entire family and for that, Tebo and I thank you all!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Update time!

Well, we have now gone over $5,000!  We currently have $5,436.91 in our account for Wings for Our Troops "in loving memory of CPL Chad S Wade".  I couldn't be more thrilled.  We are still pulling everything together for our 501 C-3 and hopefully that will actually be sent to the IRS within the next 30 days (I hope)...  Once that happens we better hang on tight, because we will be rolling then.
We continue to hand out our brochures and share the word and spread the news of our website at http://www.wingsforourtroops.com/ as well as just reaching out and educating people about what our Marines actually have to pay out of pocket.
I will say I don't feel quite so bad for not knowing they had to pay for their own ways home and back to base before and after deployment, because almost everyone I talk to about this didn't realize it either.  I guess unless you are actually a part of that military world you just do not know.  I was one of them like so many others.
That is another amazing thing about this foundation.  It will bring attention to the fact that these men and women don't make much of a living (less than a first year school teacher) and out of that modest paycheck they still have to purchase and dress out uniforms, pay rent, food, and plane tickets home.  It doesn't go far that's for sure.  I don't know about you, but the thought of a service man or woman not being able to afford to go home and see their families and friends before or after deployment breaks my heart.  It's one thing for parents to fly out to see them, but there are so many other family members that they would love to see and spend some much needed time with and it's impossible to get all those people to these bases all over the country so let's help these young men and women get home without the burden of a plane ticket or bus fare.  Let them enjoy a little R&R and just love on family and have their families love on them.  Isn't that what it's all about anyway?  That's the very least I feel we can do when they are giving up all the comforts of home to fight for our freedom.  Thank you in advance for all I know we will do!

CPL Chad S Wade (taken when he was still LCPL)

Friday, August 19, 2011

What is Gold Star "courtesy of Susan Templeton"

I was just like the most of the world and had never head of "Gold Star Mom" or "Gold Star Families".  Unfortunately now, I'm all too familiar with this term and what it actually stands for.  For those that don't know, Gold Star Mom or Father or Families means they have lost a family member in combat.  Now that I'm a Gold Star Mom I am embarrassed that I never knew what this was, but like Susan I am determined that all Amercians are educated and remember that there are sacrifices being made not only by the Marine or Soldier, but entire families.  She shared a poem that I truly needed this week and I want to take the liberty to share it with you as well.  There are two actually...
A Poem for Gold Star Mothers,
Mom, I had a fall today.  I bruised my knee
I was running home from school with my first report card
I was so proud and wanted you to see my first Gold Star
You came running so fast and blew that magic air on my bleeding knee
How could such a simple act make that knee feel so much better

Mom, I had a fall today.  I bumped my head
It was my first day without the training wheels
You and Dad were clapping so hard that I turned to see you
The tree did not move out of my way and my head hit the branch
It was the first time I heard you say, Let me kiss it and make it feel better, and it did

Mom, are all Moms magic like you

Mom, I had a fall today but this one hurt my heart
I thought my first love would last forever
When she left I thought the world would end
This time it was I who was running to you, and you were there
You gave me the magic Mom hug and a lesson in life that we must walk through each valley
To be able to climb the next mountain 

Mom, I had a fall today, this was a bad one
You were so far away, I could not run to you, or you to me
In those last few moments I could feel your breath
I felt your lips touch my forehead
When I felt your arms I closed my eyes the pain was gone

The Gold Start you carry now has me inside
I go with you wherever you go and my love will live in your soul
Till our two souls are together again

Robert Foster September 25, 2005

The Gold Star Mother's Prayer
I know dear sons and daughters
I know just where you are.
I feel your arms around me
I know you're never far.
And though my heart is heavy
and I wonder how to go on,
I feel your arms around me
and I know that you're not far.
So I will stand tall and proudly for everyone to see
How very proud I am of you... and pray
you'll be proud of me.

So thank you, Susan, for sharing this, because my heart truly needed those words this week.  I've struggled and been very weepy, but this did provide comfort. 

Momma Bear
Gold Star Mom of CPL Chad S Wade (5-25-88 --- 12-1-10)

Gold Star

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Slow as a snail, but will be worth it!

It seems like we are doing a ton of work in the background and not moving very fast, but I promise we are making progress.  We are continuing to work on our 501 C-3 status, but it just takes a lot of time and even more paperwork (I know right, in this "paperless" world we live in). 
We have our bracelets that we are working out the details to find the best way to sell these through our website so that everyone has an opportunity to have one rather than just those right here close.  Tebo did an amazing job with them and I can't wait for us to place our next order because all of these are gone... 

WFOT Bracelet

Our website continues to be tweaked and as we have those that contribute on a regular basis we are adding their links to our website so check it out at http://www.wingsforourtroops.com/.  I long for the day that I can post pictures of our first Marine picking up his ticket to go home and show you what you have helped us accomplish.  It will happen!

We have brochures printed and boards to use for presentations with our logo on it and it is very exciting to see these things completed.  Now we just need to get in front of some groups and get more support and backing and then look out....

There are several of us reaching out to celebrities, sports figures and teams, and the media in every avenue we know at this point and while we haven't really gotten anyone to really put their name to our foundation we did receive some autographed items from Toby Keith which is very exciting so when we have our first silent auction those items will certainly be on the bidding block.  Thank you to the Toby Keith company for doing this for us.  We will catch our big break one day and all the work will have been worth it.

I know my sister in NC has a golf tournament planned in October so if you are in the Asheville, NC area and want to participate or just watch check it out!  As we get a little closer I will post more details, but right now I believe it is scheduled for October 8, 2011.  Yeah!  I know this will be as successful as her Fun Depot fundraiser was. 

We are also planning a chicken cook in Rogers, AR next year (most likely in the month of May) so as we have a date confirmed I will be sure to get the details out so everyone in our area can come out to support this worthy cause. 

Things are moving, just maybe not as quickly as I like to move, but they are moving none the less.  I promise to keep you updated as things change.

On a side note... I would like to say that my bonus boys in Chad's unit are starting to finish out their contract with the USMC!  Chip Tippett was the first to head out and is now residing in Virginia and still working with the government and Chip, we are so proud of you!  Good luck to you son and enjoy every minute of life with your family.  Next we will have RoRo getting out in a couple of weeks and I can't wait.  Texas better get ready.  It will never be the same!  You have a precious young man heading your way and you better be good to him or momma bear is coming to visit!  You've been warned.  My Seth(y) gets out soon (date TBD) and I can't wait, because I know I get to wrap my arms around his neck when he does.  Hurry up son!  Then we will have Rob Schmidt and Shawn Spratt heading home.  Rob, Gladys, and little Abby will be stopping by on their way to Virginia and I can't wait.  They weren't able to be with us when the guys came in June so this will be a nice treat.  Shawn, Lindsay, and Suri will be living in OK which is super close to us so they better look out, because I plan to see them often and spoil Suri every chance I get.  Then my Zach(y) (and Chad would have) gets out October 9th (which also happens to be his beautiful bride's birthday) and head to Texas.  Ladies, it will be tough for him to beat that gift, but I've told him he still has to get her a present.  :)
TJ is getting out soon and heading to Georgia.  There are others like Zach Seabaugh and Brian Hinkle that will be getting out around some of these dates, but I don't have their exact dates yet, but I can't wait until they are all out and in safer jobs.  Yes!  I will always worry, but at least the worry will be different than what it has been.  Speaking of Brian Hinkle. I have to say that his mom is absolutely a doll.  She sent us a check for our foundation with the sweetest note and then just this week she sent another one and said she came in to some extra money this week and wanted to do all she could for our boys.  It wasn't until then that I even made the connection that it was Brian's mom.  It just never dawned on me until I talked to RoRo.  I hope to meet her in person one day and it would be even better if it was when I was handing our first Marine a plane ticket and she could just help me do that! 

There are lots of things going on and while it is exciting that the foundation is taking off and the guys are finally going back to civilian life and we are finding our "new normal" without my Chadman I don't want to ever forget that there are still too many of our men and women in uniform fighting and in danger and away from the comforts of home.  This latest tragedy with the Seals and soldiers killed in Afghanistan.  My heart goes out to all the families and friends.  I know what they are facing and it won't be easy and I just hate that they are now a part of this group, but lets not forget to lift them up in prayer and often. 

I look forward to more updates soon and I expect my bonus boys to be letting me know their actual dates when they get them so I can know where they are and when...  :)  Thanks again to all who are helping in every way with launching this foundation. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

WOW!... Update

WOW is the best way to describe how I feel right now.  To date with Paige's fundraiser in Asheville, NC at Fun Depot we have a total of $4,819.97!  Can I get a WooHoo!  That's awesome for a foundation that is still in the start up stages.  The generosity of people never ceases to amaze me and it can continue, because apparently I like to be amazed.  LOL!
Seriously though, I am touched by all the people so willing to give of their money, time, encouragement, and over all support.  With the state of our economy like it is right now and to still have so many people willing to give so willing to our foundation and see that it's as great a cause as we feel it is really touches my heart. 
To update everyone on where we are right now... We have filed with the state of AR for our article of incorporation so that piece is complete.  We currently have our accountant working on our 501 (C)-3 application and what an application it is (wheeww), but he will be able to get that done for us and once that is filed and accepted we will be able to really target key supporters that we will feel will be willing to support us.  Once this happens this thing will really get wheels and take off. 
I'm looking forward to coming up with our first fundraiser here in AR to raise money solely for Wings for Our Troops.  This is about paying it forward for us.  This foundation won't bring our Chadman back, but it will certainly give another Marine the opportunity to spend time with his loved ones before deployment and after.  That's what it's all about.  I still cannot imagine not having had those eleven days with Chad before he left and I truly cherish every second he was here.  I never want a family to know their child went off to war and didn't come home and they didn't have those last days with them before they left.  I couldn't imagine how much harder this would all be without having had that time with him. 
Thank you for all who have already given and for those who will be giving in the future, thank you in advance!  I truly feel like this foundation has already been blessed.  I guess you could say that we must have our own guardian angel looking down on us throughout this process.  Hmmmm... that's right, we do!  Thank you too Chad.  :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our Neighbors

I hope everyone is as lucky or will be as lucky as we are to have as great a neighborhood as we have.  Not only did they step up and take good care of us right after Chad passed away, but they have continued to show us nothing, but love and support.  They agreed to place an American flag/pole at the entrance of our subdivision (Oxford Ridge, Bentonville) http://www.oxfordridge.net/ and we were all fortunate enough that when one of our neighbors started talking to Lowe's and Home Depot regarding the pricing and details around getting it installed, Home Depot not only donated the flag pole and 2 flags, but they also installed it at no charge and made sure that it was within regulations with the lighting we currently have there.

Then the neighbors of Oxford Ridge donated and took care of getting it created, a stone in memory of Chad.  We knew it was coming, but didn't know when so what a nice surprise when we pulled into the subdivision last night after work to see it not only had arrived, but had already been installed at the base of the flag pole.

We are so blessed to live in a neighborhood that still knows the meaning around "neighborly".  Of course they have made it impossible for us to ever move from there (not that we would ever want to), but we are there as long as the good Lord will allow us to be and we couldn't be more grateful and happy for that.  I just hope we are able to repay the generosity one day or at least do a good job of showing them what this has meant to us. 

Thank you to our Oxford Ridge family.  We couldn't have gone through and continue to go through this part of our life's journey without each and every one of you.  We love you all!

Flag Pole at entrance donated by Home Depot

Stone under the flag donated by Oxford Ridge residence

Oh the red tape!

It may not seem like it since we haven't had many updates lately, but we are progressing.  I am amazed at how much time and paperwork it takes to get things in order for a non-profit foundation.  My goodness!  We are in the process of applying for our 501 (C)(3) and once that is completed we will be on our way to hopefully collecting some major money.  My sister's fundraiser in NC was a huge success and I expect to receive a check for a little over $1,300 by the end of the week!  Great job sis!  She is already planning her next one which will be a golf tournament (details to follow later) and I am certain it too will be a huge success.  We are looking forward to all the fundraisers we will be doing here in AR as well and once we get all our paperwork completed the fun stuff will begin!  We have received many donations through the mail.  Some from family and friends and some from complete strangers.  It's been so heart warming to see these come in like they have.  We will be selling some bracelets with our name and website on them (pictures to follow later) as well as t-shirts that we hope to have created in the near future.  There are lots of things in the works, but at least we are still moving forward.  Our huge supporters with http://www.daisyandelm.com/with her R.E.D. Friday Jewelry (Remember Everyone Deployed) and http://undergroundvintage.blogspot.com/2011/07/busy-bees.html with her items she is donating the proceeds from and don't forget the Christian Rock Band "Take It Back" http://facedownrecords.com/ who will have t-shirt made with our logo on the back and band picture on the front for sale and all proceeds will go to WFOT are making huge contributions as well as getting the word out.  A big thank you for that! 
I look forward to the next update being one that announces we have our 501 (C)(3) completed and many more steps behind us.  Thank you to Russell for his time and help with everything as well as everyone on our Advisory committee.  I know it takes a huge commitment and dedication to work on a foundation like this and Tebo and I are so grateful to each and every one of you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I won't steal her thunder (much), but I couldn't wait

To share the news that my sister's, Paige, fundraiser was apparently a huge success.  We don't have final dollar amounts yet, but it does exceed $1,000!  Thank you not only to all the family and friends and even those we didn't even know for showing up (some family drove 4 hours to be there), but to Fun Depot of Asheville, NC for believing enough in our cause to help us out and offer their establishment to make last night possible.  One thing is for sure, when my sister (heck my entire family) gets their minds around something and it becomes a passion there is truly no limits to what they can do.  The bar has been set really high now so I hope there are many out there with guts to try and out-do last night at Fun Depot in Asheville, NC by Paige and Crew!  Thank you to all that showed up to support physically as well as financially!  I will let her post the details and pictures, but I wanted to give kudos too.  Love you sis and all who helped you make last night the huge success it was!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Big Thank You for a Fundraiser!

My sister (aka BFF Sis) in North Carolina is hosting a fundraiser at Fun Depot this weekend.  She did something completely out of her comfort zone today by having a live interview on camera with their local news station http://www.wlos.com/shared/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wlos_vid_4850.shtml  They did a very good job of apparently keeping her calm and relaxed during the shoot because she looked and sounded like a pro!  You go girl!  You didn't even sound like a hillbilly like I did!  So not fair (for the record).  I am very proud of you and so thankful that you have taken such a huge part in our Wings for Our Troops foundation.  I can't wait to hear how much money ya'll raise, because I have a feeling it will be off the charts!  So you out there!  If you live close to Asheville, NC and don't have major plans this weekend I urge you to join my sister and the rest of Asheville at Fun Depot (July 8th) for a fun filled family day of games!  Thank you sis.  Love you big as the sky! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

4th of July 2011

Well, it's the 4th of July weekend upon us and I have to say, I enter this weekend with a heavy heart to say the least, but it may surprise you why.  Don't get me wrong.  I miss my son.  This has been a tough week for whatever reason and I will admit, I've been a bit on the weepy side all week, but I've finally made it to Friday and I don't have to face a Monday in the office (thank you Lord!).  I'm not a huge fan of fireworks (never have been), but knowing that will be going on all weekend isn't what it is giving me a heavy heart today.  My heart is heavy for my bonus boys.  You might wonder why, but this is part of the reason my heart is heavy.  I have been so touched by the people reaching out to not only myself, but my entire family and that has been amazing.  We have received so much love and support and I can never express what that has meant for us.  My heart is heavy, because I don't know how much love and support my bonus boys have been receiving.  They are the ones that had to live the nightmare on December 1, 2010.  They are the ones that were not able to bring one of their brothers home.  They are the ones that will have to live with that the rest of their lives and all I can do is hope that I can play a small role in their lives to help make them feel better and show them love and compassion as they re-enter the civilian world (which will not be easy for any of them) and try to move on with their lives after all they have experienced, been through, and lost.  They loved Chad.  They loved him in a way that no one else will ever understand or begin to comprehend.  Yes, I loved Chad more than a person should be capable of loving another human being and only a parent can understand that kind of love.  Yes, families loved Chad with all their hearts and have been forever changed.  Yes, Katie (Chad's wife) loved him with all her heart and soul, and yes, his friends loved him with all they had, but these "Band of Brothers" that served side by side with Chad loved him in a way that we will never understand.  It's my hope and prayer that they are the ones remembered this weekend as well.  I hope and pray during all the celebrating and all the fireworks and parties that you stop for a moment and remember not only Chad's brothers in service, but all military men and women that have seen war and lost someone in battle for where there hearts are we will never understand and that is what breaks my heart.  These young men will forever have a place in my heart like none other.  I love each and every one of them and today my heart breaks for them.  I don't plan to shoot off fireworks this weekend.  I feel I truly have nothing to celebrate.  I don't say that for people to feel sorry for me (and please do NOT), but when your heart is heavy it's hard to celebrate.  I will spend time with some friends and I will have a good weekend, but I do not plan to celebrate big with booms and flashes.  I plan to celebrate in my heart that all my bonus boys made it home safely and are now in a much safer place (physically) while I continue to pray that their hearts and minds heal as quickly as it possibly can and that they always know that we love and appreciate them for all they have done and sacrificed and continue to sacrifice every day.  Please take time this weekend to remember what these men and women have gone through and the losses they have experienced and if you have a military person that has been in war stop for a few seconds to think what hearing fireworks going off might bring to their minds.  The thoughts and fears of hearing something blow up might do to them this weekend.  I don't mean to put a damper on your festivities this weekend, but I do plan to give you something to think about other than beer and fireworks.  It's not about that this weekend.  It's about our men and women in uniform and all they have done and lost for us. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

WWP Fundraiser "in loving Memory of CPL Chad S Wade"

What a great weekend!  We participated in a fundraiser Chad's buddies ("The Nuts" and some of their girlfriends/wives) along with Emily Shumates parents, Mike & Wendy Jones hosted a fundraiser in Rogers, AR Saturday for the Wounded Warrior Project in memory of CPL Chad S Wade.  You may remember that we requested donations to go to the WWP in lieu of flowers at Chad's funeral.  We didn't have our Wings for Our Troops kicked off at the time and we wanted to give back so this was the perfect fit, especially since some of Chad's buddies were going to need some medical attention when they returned home from their injuries so what better way to give back.  Neile Jones of KNWA https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/NeileJonesBatie
covered this fundraiser as well as interviewing Tebo and I to learn more about Chad and Wings for Our Troops www.wingsforourtroops.com She did an amazing job and was so warm and caring.  Please go to her Face Book page and like her and check out all the amazing things she is doing not only for our community, but for our troops as well.

The fundraiser this weekend was what I would consider a huge success.  Approximately $2,400 was collected for the WWP and it was heart warming to see the support from the community like we did.  There were many veterans there as well as some active military and those who just love our military men and women and wanted to do something to give back.  It was a great day.  The chicken cooked by Whitey Smith and the Chicken Cookin' Crew did a great job!  I have no clue how much chicken they actually cooked Saturday, but we were the 2nd chicken cook they had that day!  Can you imagine?  Not only were they grilling over hot grills, but the temperatures were in the upper 90's.  I never heard one complaint and there were lots of smiles and laughter going on.  We had a representative from Senator John Boozman's office was there as well as congressman Steve Womack.  They presented us with the reading from the House floor that took place in December.  It truly was an honor that Tebo and I were proud to be a part of.  It is our hope and prayer that no military man or woman goes unappreciated for their service and sacrifice.  In addition, it has become our mission to make sure every military man or woman has the opportunity to go home before and after deployment to spend precious time with their loved ones.  

Representative from Senator John Boozman's Office

Me with the "Nuts" and "Baby Peanut"

WWP in memory of Chad

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Very exciting stuff going on...

We have so much activity going on either with Wings for Our Troops "in loving memory of CPL Chad S Wade" or with the Wounded Warrior Project and we couldn't be more excited.  Let me update you on a few things taking place.  First Wings for Our Troops foundation is off to such a good start that we are looking into going forward with our 501C-3 status (non-profit tax deductible status).  I hope to have all the confirmation and next steps for that before next week.  We also have our official logo now, courtesy of Whitney Killebrew of whitneyelainedesigns.com

In addition to the logo we now have a pamphlet, also courtesy of whitneyelainedesigns.com
and our Tyson print shop for the first printed copies rolling out! 

This weekend in Rogers, AR there will be a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project in memory of Chad.  His buddies and some of their parents will be grilling chicken (donated by Tyson Foods, Inc) and merchants will be donating proceeds to the WWP and the local barber will be doing hair cuts for donations that will go to the WWP.  There will be orange ribbons on door fronts and a special presentation at 1:00 PM (central time).  It's all very exciting and anything we can do to support and honor all our troops is always a worthy cause. 

Also, my sister, Amber Paige Banks, in Asheville, NC at Fun Depot on July 8th to raise money for our foundation.  So, if you just happen to be in Asheville, NC that day stop by for some fun and games for a great cause.   You can find Amber Paige Banks on Face Book and check out more about this fundraiser.

We have another donor that is creating a new t-shirt design for their Christian Rock Band, "TAKE IT BACK" that will donate proceeds from that t-shirt to our foundation.  As soon as they have the  t-shirt created I will share a picture of that with you here and through our website at www.wingsforourtroops.com They are reaching young people (really people of all ages) for the Lord and will incorporate our foundation in their good works.  You can find them on Face Book if you just search for TAKE IT BACK.  They are doing great things!

Things are shaking and moving and it won't be long and we will be able to purchase our first ticket for a Marine to go home before or after deployment.  I cannot wait until that day comes and I can share that news with you! 

Thanks to all who are already heavily involved and committed to seeing this come to fruition.  Doesn't it feel good to pay it forward and especially for these men and women who make it possible for us to live safely in this crazy world of ours?   It sure does for me.

Check out our website at www.wingsforourtroops.com courtesy of http://www.tektrendz.com who not only created our website, but are hosting it for us as well.  Donations can be made directly from our website or by mailing a check to Wings for Our Troops to 3901 SW Staverton Drive, Bentonville, AR 72712.  We have already collected a little over $1,000 to date and that's before any major fundraisers.  It's mostly been just word of mouth.  How amazing is that?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A visit from our "Bonus Boys"

The guys from Chad's Battalion were released on June 3rd for post deployment leave.  Five of his closest friends decided to take a road trip to AR to see us before going to see their own families.  It was four Mairnes and two wives that made this trip to see us and then a fifth Marine came down from Missouri to join us on Sunday.  They drove 23 hrs from San Diego, CA to Bentonville, AR.  I thank their families from the bottom of my heart for allowing us to steal some of their family time when I know they were just itching to put their arms around their sons.  They arrived ahead of schedule (they tried to blame sweet little Ashley for speeding, but I'm pretty sure it was the boys)... :) arriving around 7:00 PM on Saturday night.  We had a great long weekend.  Tebo cooked for them and just catered to us all.  Thank you to my precious husband for that.  He was amazing.  My sister flew in from NC and my other sister and parents came over from OK to join us.  We just sat around and visited and let the guys just relax and do whatever they felt like doing.  It was wonderful.  On Monday Tebo and I took them to the cemetery so they could pay their last respects to Chad and it was the most tender time I've ever experienced.  They each had their chance to say good-bye and just loved on Tebo and I.  After their time there we went to eat lunch and Tebo took us all to Fast Lanes to ride go-carts and play laser tag.  So let me describe the fun we had.  First they road go-carts and I didn't drive the first time, because I wanted to take pictures (which didn't turn out so good since it was so dark, but I gave it a shot anyway).  They had so much fun, but all these Marines and Lindsey let the tiniest girl beat them!  You go Ashley!  Then we played laser tag.  I didn't intend to participate because I had never done it before, but Tebo convinced me to and it was more fun than I expected.  What was really fun is coming around a corner and hearing RoRo scream like a girl (sorry RoRo).  LOL!  Who knew I was so quiet?  Anyway, I don't know who (if anyone) I shot, but the cutest thing ever was not one of those Marines could shoot me.  Every time they would come up to me they would say, Oh sorry mom, and pull their laser guns back to their chests.  It was so sweet.  I did have to fuss at Zach because he kept running in front of my line of fire and I got tired of shooting him!  :) 
Monday evening Seth, Shawn, and Lindsey left to head to their families in OK.  Seth bought Chad's motorcycle so he road it over there and I have to say... as much as I hated that bike it was much harder to watch it drive away than I anticipated.  I couldn't imagine anyone else buying it though than Seth.  He just better be super careful or else!  Then Zach, Ashley, and RoRo stayed with us until early Wednesday morning.  We just hung out and had a good time.  I did get some one on one time with each of my bonus sons and we got to share our hearts and just make sure each other was okay and it was so needed by me for sure.  It was so hard to watch each of them leave, but that was me being selfish.  I just wanted to hang on to them as long as possible.  I know their families were glad to finally get their hands on them and I will forever be grateful for them giving up some of their own precious time they had with them for us. 
Once they left the reality sunk in that now I don't have an event or visit or ceremony to prepare for and look forward to.  Suddenly it became real and it scared me to death!  I'm so blessed to have my bonus kids from Tebo and will always have my Marine bonus kids and my husband and family and close friends, because they truly carry me through each day.  Most of them probably don't even realize how much they actually help me, but they do.  Just knowing they are there when I need them is enough.  I guess it's just time to start facing this awful truth and focus on our Wings for Our Troops foundation.  Once we purchase that first ticket for a Marine to go home will be a great day!  I can't wait.  This is us paying it forward and those will pay it forward and so on.  How wonderful is that?
Boys will be boys

Angelina, Butters, & Paige

Just chillin on the deck

Pretty sure she is telling big stories :)

Poor RoRo, they wouldn't leave him alone

It's go cart time (btw, Ashley won)

Hey Mom!

No Lindsey, you can't take the Jeep home

Just having fun

Me and two of my boys

Ashley & Paige

What a great night

Solving the world's problems

With friends like these they need no enemies (ha!)

Trying out his new bike...

We are making big progress!

For those just joining us on our Wings for Our Troops blog I will give you a quick run down of what this is all about.  We, as I am sure most people, thought that when our military men and women went home before and after deployment that the government paid for those trips home.  WRONG!  It comes out of their already modest salaries and if they can't afford to make the trip home and don't have family or friends that can help them out financially, then they just have to stay on base until they deploy.  Well, on December 1, 2010, we lost my only child in Afghanistan while in combat.  We had the most amazing pre-deployment leave visit with him.  We were fortunate enough (mainly thanks to my amazing husband) to help he and Katie come home for that visit.  It was 11 days of heaven right here in NW Arkansas.  After December 1st I couldn't imagine not having had that time with him.  Tebo suggested that I revisit my idea of helping our military men and women get home before and after deployments as my new project to focus on.  This foundation is not to help them get home just to hang out with friends and do whatever they want.  This is focused specifically on them getting home before and after deployments.  They, as well as their families need this time before and after and certainly even more so if they have lost a brother in combat.  I believe in their brotherhood they have and I know it helps them a lot, but I also believe their true healing doesn't begin until they are home with their loved ones.
We have our website up and running.  Check it out at http://www.wingsforourtroops.com/ and you can also find us on Face Book by searching for Wings for Our Troops.  We have been so blessed with people wanting to donate proceeds from items they sell to our foundation.  It's their way of paying it forward.  I would like to mention these people myself and you can also find links to their websites/blogs on our website.  Daisy & Elm Jewelry and Rosaries can be found on Face Book by searching that name or her blog at http://400wakeups.blogspot.com/.  Her husband is deployed to Iraq right now and she still finds a way to help others.  She makes R.E.D. (remember everyone deployed) jewelry (one of a kind) for Fridays and donates 50% of those proceeds to our foundation.  She has amazing other jewelry as well so I encourage you to support her and enjoy some beautiful one of a kind jewelry. There will be no one out there that will have the piece you purchase.  Also, there is another blogger, Underground Vintage Studio, that is donating proceeds from specific pieces she makes to our foundation.  You can find her at http://undergroundvintage.blogspot.com/.  She has amazing items that she makes and you will love them!  Her brother actually served with Chad and is in his Battalion and this is her way of paying it forward as well. Check out her blog and support her as well as she does her part to support our troops.  In addition to these wonderful ladies, one of Chad's buddies he went to school with and played baseball with has a Christian Rock Band called "Take It Back".  You can search for them on Face Book and My Space to find them and read all about them.  They have a band member that was also in the military and they have created a t-shirt that the proceeds from the sale of that t-shirt will go to our foundation as well as a separate donation the band is doing personally themselves to support this worthy cause.  I'm just blown away at all the support we have already started receiving from all over the world for our foundation.  It won't be long now and we will be able to join the 501C-3 non-profit status and who knows, this could become my full time job.  I would love that.  I love nothing more than helping people and especially when it's for a good cause.  This is a good cause.  Our men and women serving and fighting for our freedom should not have to pay out of their modest salaries to go home to spend precious quality time with their family and friends before or after deployments.  This is just so wrong to me and I want to make a difference and make sure not one misses a chance to love on their families due to money. 
We are currently having fundraisers starting in North Carolina (Thank you BFF Sister) as well as many people having already sent us checks made out to Wings for Our Troops.  To date we have already collected a little over $800 for our foundation and things have just gotten started.  I think that's an amazing start. 
We also have our official logo now that will be added to our website any day now and it is our goal to have it as recognizable as any other logo you may be familiar with.  We want everyone to know that they can make a difference in a soldier's life and their family's life by helping get them home.  We hope to have things worked out soon where people can donate miles or travel points as well, but we aren't quite there yet.  I truly cannot wait until we help our first soldier get home.  It is almost too much to contain myself. 
Our family and friends have jumped on board and even people we've not even met yet are joining in to help.  That tells me there are so many people out there that truly do care.  I love that.  Just think, if all of us pay it forward, what kind of world will we have.  That excites me!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our California Trip... May 2011

May 24, 2011 Tebo and I arrived in California to honor and celebrate Chad's life as well as show honor to his brothers.  It was phenomenal!  If something that sad can be phenomenal, this was it.  The USMC could NOT have been more gracious and loving to us and we felt like they were honoring us more than us honoring them.  The ceremony took place on what would have been Chad's 23rd birthday.  As hard as that might sound to have been for us, it was actually more peaceful I think than had we been home.  We had the ceremony, which was amazing all in itself, but Tebo and I wanted to thank Chad's brothers by providing a cookout for them and just to thank them for their service and for loving Chad like they do.  It was a huge success!  Those young men and their wives (those who are married) really let their hair down and relaxed.  They loved it and boy can they eat.  LOL!  Tebo grilled 52 burgers, 36 brauts, and 24 hot dogs and we only had 2 patties left.  We think there could have been close to 50 people show up in total and while not all ate and some ate a little extra, we had just enough food and I believe everyone had a great time.  Tebo and I had an idea before we left that we would buy as many Mountain Dew t-shirts as we could and hand them out at the cookout and take a big group picture.  The Mountain Dew t-shirts didn't really mean that much except Chad had one that he wore all the time.  He didn't even drink the drink, but he loved that silly t-shirt.  I use to tease him about wearing it all the time and people thinking that or his Braves shirt were the only two shirts he owned.  He so didn't care (which is a fabulous trait of his).  We all changed into our Mountain Dew t-shirts and took our group picture and had a ball with it.  What was so funny is I was shocked at how difficult it was to get a bunch of Marines into formation.  Really?  Isn't that what they are known to do?  Well, someone mentioned that sometimes it can take them 4 days of practice to get it right and I would just like to say that we did it in about 20 minutes.  Maybe they should hire me to be a new D.I.  LOL!  All in all the trip was amazing.  We had a great time and enjoyed seeing all Chad's buddies and just getting the chance to tour Camp Pendleton again (again for me, first time for Tebo) and visiting the cross where people (mostly Marines) leave items to honor the fallen that mean something special to them.  We were no exception.  It was very peaceful there and while I really did believe I was having a heart attack on the way back up the "hill" (I'm not so sure they didn't replace that hill with Mt. Everest before we got there), it was very rewarding to go and share that moment with those Marines.  I wouldn't trade the experience (or near heart attack) for that time at the cross for anything.  I have to say returning to AR was more difficult that I thought it would be, but we knew our bonus boys would be coming for a visit in less than two weeks so that gave us something more to look forward to.  I will write about our visit a little later, but I don't want to take anything away from our precious trip to California.  It truly helped us with some closure and to finally get a chance to wrap our arms around our bonus boys (and their wives) after a very grueling deployment.  Tebo and I can't thank these young men enough for doing all they could to take care and protect Chad.  They truly are brothers for life and that makes them our family for lives.  This includes their precious wives and babies.  We are more in love with all of them than we ever thought we were before.  We truly are blessed beyond our wildest imagination. 

At the Cross - Amazing

Our special Chad stuff we left (the guys left his picture)

Dinner on Thursday Night

Tebo & I with our boys

Our Mountain Dew Gang!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Exciting activities taking place!

I could not be more excited about this foundation.  Things are moving along so well.  We have had a company called TekTrendz donate the web design and hosting for our website!  I've been working with Rob on this project and he has been amazing to work with.  He has done an amazing job and as soon as it is a live website I will get it out to you.  We've also gotten our bank account set up at Arvest bank so we can officially take donations.  Right now they can send donations to me in the name of "Wings for Our Troops" and I will get it all to the bank.  Once our website it live donations can be there by clicking our "donate" button.  We now have at least 3 (potentially a 4th) businesses wanting to donate proceeds from products they sell to our foundation.  The latest one is Cody Bradley's Christian Rock band "Take it Back".  They have a t-shirt they will donate proceeds from to us as well as additional band financial support.  They travel all over the country doing concerts so the opportunities are limitless.  He has a band member that is a Vet so this appears to be very close to their hearts for that reason, but also, Cody went to school and played baseball with Chad and during this time in their lives they were best friends.  Thank you Cody and the band for this amazing support.  My heart is just overflowing with appreciation and just overwhelmed with the outpouring of support we are receiving.  You can find Cody's band on Face Book and Myspace right now so I would encourage you to search for their band and check it out!  The 2/1 Unit has returned from Afghanistan safe and sound.  The last of them arrived this past Saturday and I couldn't be more thrilled to know they are all finally back home and safe.  Now all I need is my hug from them and that will come next week!  Thank you again for all of you that have prayed, encouraged, written, and sent care packages to my bonus boys and the 2/1 Marines!  I know they appreciate it more than their words will ever be able to express.  They still have much to do to re acclimate back to the wonderful U.S.A. so please continue to lift them up as their hearts and minds heal from the loss of their brother in arms and their close friend and as they reconnect with their families.  They are an amazing group of young men and I love them every one.  Thank you boys for your service, sacrifice, and for loving my son and my family like you do!  This is honor of each of you along side the memory of Chad!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Gene Simmons Military Tribute

This is awesome! If this doesn't get you fired up to get involved in some capacity with supporting our troops then I'm not sure anything can get your fired up! Thank you Greggy, this is amazing! Turn your speakers up and enjoy!!!! Gene Simmons really does ROCK!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Wings for Our Troops - in loving Memory of CPL Chad S Wade

This foundation is being created in loving Memory of CPL Chad S Wade USMC (my son) KIA in Afghanistan on December 1, 2010.  This idea for this foundation actually started just as he was preparing to deploy to Iraq in 2009 when I learned for the first time that our Marines had to pay their own way home before and after deployments.  It bothered me so much that I knew then I had to do something, but I didn't really know what.  When we knew one of his buddies was struggling to get home due to finances we offered to pay his way and he absolutely would not accept.  He felt it would be a handout and he wasn't having it.  He, as most if not all of them are, was too proud to accept.  Our Chad was fortunate to have parents blessed enough to be able to help him get home.  When he came home for pre-deployment leave before Afghanistan I took off 9 days for vacation so I could be available to spend every moment with him that he was here.  It was absolutely the most amazing time and he spent more time at home with us than with his friends which was amazing all in itself (as most parents understand).  I never dreamed that would be the last time I would see my only child alive, but it was.  It was at that moment that my husband and I began to think about this foundation again and I told him that I felt that his band of brothers (while they really helped each other in the field) were really going to need their visits back home more than ever now.  They just experienced the worse situation while in combat a Marine can experience.  They need to get home to their families and start truly healing.  This is our mission and our goal with this foundation.  If you think about all the companies that have frequent flyer miles that they may not possibly be able to use and the countless people with miles or points that they may not be able to use, but could donate towards a Marine to get them home. Our hope is that while we are focused on the Marine Corps right now (just to get things kicked off) we want all branches of our military to benefit from this foundation.  We have our advisory committee in place and ready to get our account started and we already have some amazing support.  You can check out Daisy and Elm for Friday's Jewelry and check our her blog and jewelry.  She will be donating money for military jewelry sold directly to our foundation. She is an amazing person and has a huge heart.  Her husband is currently deployed to Iraq and she is doing more than her part to support our troops.  We have several other folks who have already started reaching out to help support this foundation.  We will have a website at some point set up so we can take donations online.  Thank you all in advance for your support and I look forward to posting updates on who we've been able to help through your support!
CPL Chad S Wade USMC