Easterseals’ Our Serve: Military Appreciation Day, a VIP experience at the Western & Southern Open, brought together more than 400 guests and raised more than $205,000 for local veterans on August 14, 2017.
Keynote Speaker Colonel Danny R. McKnight, U.S. Army, Retired, shared his Somalia experience, which was the basis for the book and movie Black Hawk Down. He spoke about the “kids” he lost on that mission, and held them up as an example of the sacrifice veterans are willing to make and why it is so important that veterans receive our support in return.
Guests soberly observed seven portraits from The Unknown Soldier, a collection of large-scale black and white photographs by renowned photographer David Jay. The collection was recently acquired by the Library of Congress for its permanent collection, as visual documentation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The series has been described as “revealing the oft unseen consequences of war.”
Mark Thesken of Thesken Art created a one-of-a kind painting live on stage in under ten minutes. The artwork, full of patriotic imagery, was auctioned off for $3,600. A portion of the proceeds went to supporting Easterseals Veteran Services.
The event supports Easterseals programs, including veteran services that provide one-on-one care for emergency, education, and employment needs. With approximately 1,300 homeless veterans in the tristate area and nearly 5,000 local veterans who are unemployed and struggling to find work, local solutions have never been more important. Since 2014, Easterseals Veteran Services has delivered total benefits of $9.4 million dollars to local veterans. Easterseals Veteran Services is staffed 100% by veterans who understand that challenges faced when transitioning to civilian life. An emergency hotline works synergistically with Education and Employment resources, breaking down the barriers local veterans are facing and allowing them to take the next step toward reclaiming their lives.
To learn about sponsorship opportunities for this inspiring event, contact Events Manager Erica Busch
More than 350 guests, partners, and military men and women came together in 2016 to celebrate, honor and support local veterans. The event raised more than $185,000 to benefit Easterseals' veterans services.
The story of Timothy Brown drove home the importance of veteran support. After too many disappointments in finding affordable housing, Brown called the Easterseals emergency hotline to say a final goodbye. His specialist, veteran Michelle Phillips, called 911 and got him the medical attention he needed. See the video that tells Tim's story.
The Keynote Speaker was Kris “Tanto” Paronto, whose real-life experience inspired the book and film 13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. He spoke of the struggle that veterans encounter when transitioning to civilian life, leaving behind a high-stakes environment, and translating their unique experiences into civilian skills. “Veterans are the best guys to hire because they’ve been through chaos,” said Paronto, addressing the need for employers to recruit veterans and the vast capabilities that veterans bring to the workforce because of their military experience.
Guests enjoyed the Easterseals hospitality tent, which included “The Eyes of Freedom: Lima Company Memorial," an exhibit honoring the 23 Marines of Lima Company from Ohio who were killed during their 2005 deployment in Iraq.
A last-minute fundraiser occurred when emcee Jon Sanchez auctioned off the opportunity to join him in taking Kris Paronto to Skyline for the first time. The outing went for $5,000 to Dr. Robert S. Heidt, who then insisted that Kris Paronto take some of the military men and women from the event instead. It became an “eight-way” as Sanchez and Paronto were joined by six guests, and all declared Easter Seals Mission: Skyline accomplished.