Operation Raising Spirits
The primary goal of this program is to raise the spirits of seriously injured Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. To accomplish this the Spirit of Liberty Foundation schedules regular uplifting visits to these soldiers with the hopes of raising their spirits.
Raising Spirits has traveled by private plane, use of which was donated to the Foundation, over 7000 miles visiting 10 military hotspots and facilities. These trips have included unprecedented stops at North America Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) the most secure Air Force Facility in North America.
Some of the major medical centers we have visited include Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and Naval Medical Center in San Diego, California.
These trips are made throughout the year, but the most special trip each year is during the holiday season bringing Santa Claus and the magical spirit of Christmas to our Wounded Warriors. The Spirit of Liberty Foundation’s Santa is very special because he is literally “America’s Santa”. Instead of wearing the traditional red suit with white fur, America’s Santa suit is official Army camouflage instead of red with white fur.
As part of the Raising Spirits trips, the Foundation brings special gifts to our troops. Last year’s gifts were donated by over 70 U.S. Senators including Senator Henry Reid, and Senator John McCain, as well as gifts from professional athletes and teams including Drew Brees, and Kobe Bryant, and teams from the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, NASCAR, and the PGA.
Raising Spirits has visited with over 2,500 appreciative heroes and their families whose spirits have been lifted by the Foundation’s efforts.
Visiting Heroes Children’s Program
In addition, the Spirit of Liberty Foundation visits the children’s wards at these military hospitals nationwide bringing gifts and creating special occasions for terminally ill children. One major event was “Ashley’s Prom Party” which, at the request of a Two Star General, the Foundation organized an unforgettable Senior Prom party for a service member’s terminally ill daughter who could not leave the hospital. The Foundation was able to bring in her entire class to her bedside. Major national media such as USA Today and Fox television network covered this.
Connecting Heroes is a program the Foundation created to lift the spirits of our returning Wounded Warriors within the first few weeks that they return stateside, which is often their darkest time. The hospital staff learns from the soldier who their heroes are, be it an athlete, a professional sports team, actor, astronaut, or even a President. The Foundation then quickly arranges for personalized letters, photos, and memorabilia to be delivered to the soldier’s room. This has been an extremely successful program to lift their spirits.
Christmas for Wounded Warrior’s Children
For several years, the Foundation has secured holiday gifts for the children of Wounded Warriors and through the Foundation’s relationship with the Red Cross facilitate distribution of the gifts to the children.
Santa Visits the Troops
The Foundation’s Santa has visits our Armed Forces at the invitation of the Commanding General in Iraq, David Perkins. The Foundation’s trip was the first time Santa had ever been flown into Kuwait and Iraq to visit our troops. On these trips, the Foundation has carried personal gifts from Members of Congress and Governors. These have become coveted gifts by the troops. Again, the Foundation brings the magic and spirit of Christmas to troops who can’t be home for the holidays.
Continual Support of Fallen Hero Families
The Foundation has been responsible for Fallen Hero Families’ children, from across the country, to visit the White House for President Obama’s Easter at the White House. The Foundation has also, for a number of years, been responsible for preparing the Christmas gifts for the Fallen Hero Families’ children at the annual Snowball Express holiday event. In addition, the Foundation has provided entertainment for these events, including the Ringling Brothers Circus.
Producing the Walter Reed 100th Birthday Celebration for the staff and troops that included arranging all of the food, entertainment, and gifts. We also had a dramatic sky dive exhibition onto the hospital’s lawn by Dana Bowman, a famous Golden Knight, who lost both his legs in a military incident. Dana unfurled a 1000 square foot American Flag which was inspiring for all the Wounded Warriors in the Hospital, many of whom were in wheel chairs on the lawn to view it. This was the first private aircraft to enter Washington, D.C. airspace since 9/11 and the national networks covered it.
The Foundation also took Frank Buckles, the last living WWI veteran, to the Capitol for a ceremony to honor him. All the networks and national media covered this. As part of this event, the Foundation arranged for all 100 U.S. Senators to sign a proclamation to honor him.
All of the above projects are in addition to the Foundation’s first annual Spirit of Liberty Foundation’s Crossing of America, which has been a major success in terms of significant media coverage and high profile involvement. The second annual Tour created by the Spirit of Liberty Foundation is already underway and generating interest from corporate sponsorship to government at all levels.