This week, ABT began what I hope is a long tradition of supporting local community and charity efforts. When Ryan Sawtelle of White Heart Foundation reached out last month and requested that we sponsor a table, donation, or ad in their “Springs of Hope Gala” fundraiser I was intrigued enough to start sharing their information internally.
As a locally owned business, we like to stay involved in community efforts. But as a Veteran run organization (Mike Piche, President (USMC 2005 – 2009) and Andy Archer, CFO (US Army 2006 -2014) we pay attention when those who have served reach out.
The request was made that I reach out and find out more information about the organization. Sure, emails back and forth probably would have done the trick, but isn’t it more fun to connect?
ABT Podcast | Cpl. Jed Morgan | USMC Retired | White Heart Foundation | Guardians Project
Enter Cpl. Jed Morgan, USMC
Cpl. Morgan (awarded the Purple Heart), a graduate of Colorado Springs Liberty High School 2008, wanted to join the military early on. After graduation, he realized he wanted to do more for his community and contribution and decided to enlist. Wanting a solid challenge and an opportunity to earn more confidence, he enlisted in the Marines.
After their initial Marine Expeditionary deployment, his unit deployed to Afghanistan, in the Helmand province May 2012. He and his unit conducted regular foot patrols through heavy Taliban controlled areas.
June 20th, 2012, on foot patrol, atop an overwatch, he misplaced his foot on an IED. At that moment, his whole world and life direction changed.
Recovering from the IED
Jed lost both legs and knees as well as use of his right hand.
After three months at Walter Reed, enduring surgery after surgery, Jed was sent to San Diego to rehab his body. There, he was introduced to other amputees and non-profits. He spent time learning about others who were refocusing their efforts on helping other wounded vets and made the connection with Ryan at White Heart hoping to create a resource for those who were still hurting from the trauma of war.
Enter Ryan Sawtelle | Founder White Heart Foundation
Ryan established the Way of Flags 9-11 Memorial on Alumni Park at Pepperdine University, paying tribute to those we lost. Later, in 2008, Ryan partnered with fellow motorcycle enthusiast John “Hooter” Nanney to create the Ride to the Flags, an annual run to the display to help raise funds for military causes.
By 2011 he was ready to form the White Heart Foundation.
The White Heart Mission
Improving the mental and physical health of post- 9/11 veterans through eco-therapy and specialized care.
Helping vets in need of equipment and specialized care that has typically been denied by the VA. He wanted to ensure that vets received 100% of the donations, and to fill the gap that they were experiencing. He had the “Ride to the Flags” annual motorcycle ride and wanted to add something more.
Eco-Therapy for Vets
In an effort to truly help people, healing from physical and emotional trauma, Ryan and Jed spent about a year researching the best way to connect and honestly help those Vets experiencing PTS and Sexual Trauma.
Their findings took them outside, incorporating nature and adventure as healing tools.
White water rafting, high rope courses, rock climbing, camping, and teamwork are just a few of the activities that they typically incorporate into the week-long Wyoming & Colorado trips. Each designed with 10-12 Vets to empower closeness and long-term connection.
The trips generally run around $1500-$2000 per vet, 100% paid for by the White Heart through the Guardian Project. They cover the guides, the activities and all the expenses that the groups may incur, so the recipients can focus on healing and not fundraising.
This year, White Heart will sponsor 2 trips, typically the schedule up to 8 and hope to continue to offer more in coming years to support more vets.
Post Guardian Project
They really wanted to guide toward a new family experience. Keeping the team and bond experience that naturally evolves through military experience.
Once a vet has graduated the program, they work to keep them connected to, and incorporate them into as many programs as they can. Reunion trips, rebalance trips, and continued engagement in “Ride to the Flag”, solidify the relationships and bonds. Mentor projects help alumni give back and offer them new purpose.
In the future, they hope to incorporate family members into the program to help treat the whole family.
Springs Of Hope Gala
The “Springs of Hope Gala” is your opportunity to become involved with White Heart Foundation. Coming up May 20, 2023, at Boot Barn Hall at Bourbon Brothers, in Colorado Springs, CO.
We encourage you to support, donate, come to the gala, or spread the word.