While serving in Afghanistan, Marine Cpl Colin Faust suffered an IED blast which changed his life forever. Colin’s injuries were severe. His left leg was amputated above the knee. His right leg was severely damaged as was his left lower arm. After countless surgeries, skin grafts, and months of grueling rehabilitation, Colin is still in the fight for recovery!
Good Morning America awards Semper Fi Fund supporters, Derek and Courtney Whitis, in holiday light display contest!
Inspiring holiday light display wins Good Morning America contest!
Congratulations to the Whitis Family! Good Morning America announced today that Derek and Courtney won the “My lights are better than your lights” contest! We appreciate all that they have done to honor our veterans and share our critical mission so that we may continue to serve those who preserve our freedom!
Click on the GMA link above to see the live announcement which aired this morning. Also, see our recent blog post about the Whitis Family to view the music video and see what inspired them to undertake such a labor intensive and inspiring project!
Semper Fi Fund supporters create holiday light display to honor military and inspire others to thank our veterans.
One month, some heavy machinery, 7 laborers, and 170,ooo lights later, it’s ready for prime time! Derek and Courtney Whitis light their SouthWood, Florida home every holiday season. This year, they’ve outdone themselves!
The whole thing took months of planning and about four weeks of installation with heavy equipment. While the display will likely send the Whitis family’s electric bill sky high, Courtney Whitis says that the cost of the display is “nothing in comparison to what the troops do every day for our freedom.” Derek shares that “the end goal is to say thanks to the troops for all that they do and hope that everyone who sees the video takes a second to say ‘thank you’ to all those that have served, are serving, and will serve. Freedom truly is free, as long as we have American troops paying that debt. Our troops make it possible for us to live our lives and enjoy our liberties – we can’t thank them enough!”
What do their neighbors think of their efforts? The display has heightened the patriotic spirit on the street. The neighbors love it, and some have even been inspired to light their own homes as well. The Whitis’ hope to inspire others to express their own appreciation to our troops for the sacrifices they have made in an effort to preserve our freedom.
Derek says that this effort was inspired by the sacrifices made among his own family and friends who have served in the military: “My Dad quit high school to go to Vietnam when he was 17, my father in law is a Ranger who served in Vietnam, our cousin Bryce White is a Seebee serving in Afghanistan right now, and my brother in law is USMC LtCol Tim Anderson, CO of HMH 366- the Hammerheads. He and our sister in law, Stephanie Anderson, do an amazing job serving our country and Marines.”
Derek’s Grand Am road racing team, Freedom Autosport, has been working with the Semper Fi Fund for the last few years with car graphics, on air coverage with SPEED TV, and fundraising. Of the Semper Fi Fund , Derek says “We’ve been very impressed with the amazing services provided by the Semper Fi Fund and how well it’s managed. You don’t find charities with this kind of commitment and staff very often.”
In the video above, Derek and Courtney suggest taking a look at the Semper Fi Fund website to discover ways to honor and support our veterans. For ideas on how to say “thank you” to those who have sacrificed so much to preserve our freedom please see “31 Ways to Give”. You may read more about the Whitis’ inspiring Light Display on the Semper Fi Fund website as well.
Thanks, Derek and Courtney, for allowing us to showcase your labor of love! Inspiring!
Eighteen Marines, One Mission: Hike 1,000 miles to support injured veterans through the Semper Fi Fund
Eighteen Marines, One Mission: Hike the 1,000 mile “Mountains -to-Sea Trail” in North Carolina to support injured Marines through the Semper Fi Fund.
This hike has developed for the Fortunate Sons into a way to remember wounded brothers in arms, honor fallen comrades and show gratitude for those who have sacrificed so much in the name of freedom. Seeing the teamwork of these Marines has inspired others to show their support and host their own local events. Many pledged to walk 1,000 miles, some sold bracelets, and others held fundraisers in their own communities as a way to honor and support our injured heroes.
What follows is an excerpt from a letter, written by Captain Mark Greenlief, with an update on this incredible experience:
Overall, the hike has been an amazing experience for all of us. We have been given the opportunity to meet a lot of generous and kind people along the trail. The support from communities along the way was amazing and it never ceases to amaze us all of the support North Carolinians have for the Marines. From our initial event at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, the events with the Marine Corps League, the amazing hospitality at the Hilton and Brioso Restaurant in Biltmore Park, the much needed sandwich at the Black Mountain Campground, the welcome events sponsored by ROADS in Stokesdale, the barbeque in Raleigh, the dinner in New Bern, Barbara Darden and the Swansboro Rotarians, and overwhelming support from the amazing people throughout the journey have really made this experience one we will all remember.
We have not only seen support in North Carolina but throughout the country. Specifically in communities like Monmouth and Prospect Heights, IL. In the town of Monmouth, Deborah Greenlief has organized the community in support of Fortunate Sons and the Semper Fi Fund. They have sold Fortunate Sons/Semper Fi Fund bracelets, pledged to walk hundreds of miles, made multiple announcements at the local high school football games, and donated their time and heart to the cause. In Prospect Heights, IL young Emily Gramer has donated her time and raising awareness for Fortunate Sons and the Semper Fi Fund though her school involvement, selling bracelets and organizing support. It has been amazing to see the outpouring of support for the Semper Fi Fund and Fortunate Sons. We are reminded daily of the support for the Marine Corps throughout the nation.
It has been a tough journey, the toughest physical event that I have personally ever done. When we initially thought of the idea, we all thought that the ‘trail’ was a wide open path winding though the forest. What we found were goat paths, switch-backing up and down, winding through the mountains. This challenge we all accepted and thoroughly enjoyed; giving us all the opportunity to learn a little about ourselves.
It has been a testament to the Marines and their dedication to themselves and the Semper Fi Fund that they completed their mission. Despite the injuries, weather, time, aches and pains, they succeeded in accomplishing what we set out to do, finish the trail in 42 days, raise awareness for the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund, and meet amazing people in the communities on the trail.
This has been an experience that we all will forever remember. A time when we all came together to help our fellow Marines. It has been an honor to be part of the Semper Fi Fund and Fortunate Sons. We all look forward to continuing this relationship with endurance events in the future.
Thanks again, Mark
My name is Colin Norgaard and I grew up in a small wheat field town known as Clay Center in the heart of Kansas. I have the greatest respect for the wounded veterans of our country and am raising funds and running the Marine Corp Marathon to help them. I also run to honor the memory of my grandfather and all who have fallen, in honor of those who are currently serving, and for the future of all who will stand to fight for the freedom of this great nation.
My grandfather tried to get to the Iwo Jima reunion last year, but his battle with cancer would not allow him to travel. One of his last requests before he passed away was to try and get into contact with someone from his battalion if any were left alive. I’m hoping to reach out at the Marine Corps Marathon in hopes of fulfilling my grandfather’s request.
“They all raised the flag and barred the fight. Called to the task for what was right! Full of Promise, Pride, and Semper Fi.”
~dedicated to Wesley G. Norgaard.
430 Miles…One Mission: Ride for Semper Fi founder celebrates achievements and reflects on lessons learned.
430 Miles…One Mission! This week 68 cyclists (including 3 members of Team Semper Fi) are biking 430 miles from Scottsdale, Arizona to San Diego, California! They are raising funds and awareness for the Semper Fi Fund. After more than 5 months of hard work and training, they plan to present these funds at the end of their journey.
What follows is Part II of an interview with Ride for Semper Fi Founder, John Greenway:
John, this week marks the 4th anniversary for The Ride for Semper Fi. Please tell us why you started the Ride for Semper Fi and share with us a little about your mission:
The Ride for Semper Fi began with the idea of giving back; bound by a common cause. We ride to honor the heroes lost, to support those injured, and for those who continue to bravely serve. Our mission is to provide hope for our injured heroes. We believe that hope breeds determination; determination leads to accomplishment, and accomplishment provides healing.
As you celebrate more than 5 months of training and fundraising and the beginning of a 430 mile journey, please share with us a favorite memory from your previous rides.
This is the most popular question I have been asked. The interesting thing is there are so many memories that I can’t narrow it down. I think most people who have done the ride would agree its more about what we have learned:
1. The true meaning of sacrifice: During our journey I have watched friends leave for multiple deployments and seen other young people come back terribly injured; this has changed my perspective on life. I have come to realize that my worst day sometimes is still better than the best day of a young person who is laying in a hospital somewhere away from their family. Also, spending time with some of the Team Semper Fi Athletes has taught me the real meaning of sacrifice, and has given our team incredible inspiration.
2. Heroes come in all different forms: I always thought I knew what a hero was….an athlete…maybe a rock star…that’s what I looked at when I was young. Now, I realize that heroes are doctors, nurses, volunteers at the Semper Fi Fund….people who just quietly serve day in and day out with the purpose of serving and taking care others. I have also seen the heroes of the battlefield. Spending time with Major Smith and Major Christian and others has shown me what a real hero is: a real leader leads from the front and puts the needs of others above his/her own.
3. Americans are great and giving people: The news or some columnists would have you believe that patriotism doesn’t exist anymore. My experience over the last four years says differently. I have seen people wave flags as we ride by…I have had total strangers hug me and thank me for what we are doing. I had an older gentleman walk up to me on the ride and tell me that he had been laid off for several months. He said ” I don’t have much but I would like to give what I have.” He then pressed a 10 dollar bill into my hands. People like these make our country different than others…..Americans give until it hurts…..then they give a little more.
So, in the end, its not about a favorite memory as much as it has been about the journey…what we have experienced, the memories we have built, and the life lessons we have learned.
For those who are new to The Ride for Semper Fi, how can they learn more and even get involved?
* Read about injured heroes who are riding 430 miles with us!
* Check out all the other Events these heroes are involved in.
* Contribute to our cause and help us provide hope for our injured heroes!
5 Really Good Reasons You should select the Semper Fi Fund through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC!)
Are you a federal or state employee or a member of the military? You have the opportunity this fall to participate in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). It is the only authorized workplace charitable giving drive for federal and state employees. In fact, the CFC is the largest and most successful workplace fundraising campaign in the world!
Join us in supporting our heroes through the CFC and your spirit of public service will make the world a better place!
5 really good reasons to select The Semper Fi Fund for CFC
1. The Semper Fi Fund is a highly rated charity! We have received the highest ratings from charity watchdog organizations like Charity Navigator and AIP. You’ll have the reassurance that your donation actually reaches those in need. Costs are kept low and our injured heroes benefit directly from 95% of every donation.
2. Your contribution helps injured and critically ill service members and their families go on to lead lives of perseverance, courage and hope. We direct urgently needed resources to post 9-11 Marines and Sailors, as well as members of the Army, Air Force or Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces. See their Heroic Stories here.
3. Semper Fi Fund provides Assistance to our injured and critically ill heroes and their families in more ways than you may realize! Learn more about the ways we help.
4. You will help injured heroes embrace a fighting athletic spirit on their road to recovery with Team Semper Fi. Injured athletes who participate in this “Recovery through Sport” program inspire others to “stay in the fight” for their own recovery.
5. Every dollar counts! Together through the CFC, members of the military, federal employees and state employees can make a difference in the lives of our heroes and their families!
Want to help?
You can find us in the CFC Catalog under
“Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund – CFC # 11459
Need a little help remembering our CFC Campaign number?
#11459 -The honor of supporting our injured is mine!