Just such a person is Garland Ellenburg. Garland is a veteran of the US Army, and lives in a small town in Kansas. Three years ago he decided to raise funds to send care packages to troops overseas, so he started "Operation Roll Out". In 2012 Garland learned about GallantFew and contacted me, asking if Operation Roll Out could benefit GallantFew. Of course! A friendship was born. The ride raised $1500 for GallantFew, and you can see pictures of the 2012 event here.
This year we decided to help a local veteran, a Sergeant First Class (now retired) named Phillip Kitts. Phillip suffered several Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and has several other medical issues from his military service. The military transition system continues to be broken and Phillip virtually fell through the cracks. His wife Heidi had to quit her job and assume responsibility as full-time caregiver - but the "system" doesn't compensate a full-time caregiver for a soldier on active duty. As the process dragged on for literally years, the financial strain on this family became incredible.
Phillip and Heidi Kitts are fighters. They and Garland are representative of the very best that America raises - people that sacrifice their very lives so that the rest of us can be free to pursue whatever dream we choose, and we owe it to those that become severely wounded to live a life of which they can be proud - a life that continues to be fulfilling, not one that is boxed up and placed on a shelf because they are all used up.
So one man, Garland Ellenburg, looks around and decides by gosh, he's going to make a difference.
On September 14th, we held Operation Roll Out 2013.
Garland making announcements prior to the ride.
The difference he made this year enabled us to make a $3,000 dollar donation to Phillip to help with his expenses, and hopefully to help him grow his small but awesome business.
left to right: Army veteran Bill Cooper (the inspiration for starting GallantFew and one of the original founding board members), Heidi and Phillip, me, Garland.
But the story's not done here.
Phillip has really needed a trailer, one that could safely haul the backdrops and other materials so important to his photography business. Phillip decided to use the funds raised to purchase that trailer, and he found one in Wisconsin, and he, Heidi and Garland drove to Wisconsin to buy it.
Here's the amazing thing. When the Potters learned of the Kitt's story, they donated the trailer.
Flat gave it to him.
The Potters with Heidi
The Potters with Phillip
Brian and Neva Potter of Wisconsin are great Americans. Phillip said "The generosity of the Potter family has filled a major piece of the puzzle for my business. The ability to become completely mobile with my studio affords the ability to accept jobs anywhere, anytime". Phillip has already picked up several jobs from contacts made at the event.
The power of one. One man sees an issue and decides to do something about it.
Have you looked around your community? What is being done locally to help veterans transition home, and to help them become contributing, valuable members of the community? You can be the one - the one that decides to do something.
Transitioning warriors home isn't the government's problem - it's OUR problem.
If you want to discuss how GallantFew can help you do something, drop me a note. So you know, GallantFew took no proceeds from Operation Roll Out 2013. We felt it important to keep everything local.
One person in every community across the USA could turn GallantFew into GallantMany.
Be the one.
Pictures of the day here.
View the original e-newsletter prior to the ride here.
I inadvertently omitted the quote from Phillip about the trailer. Did pushups, fixed the omission. km