Guest Blogger: Brian Kolfage, Tillman Military Scholar Class 3, University of Arizona
Last month, I was invited to New York City to attend the Wounded Warrior Project Gala, which is a fundraiser event with over 800 attendees at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. I was invited as a representative of our country’s wounded veterans. The main event started off with a silent auction and cocktail hour. Nearly 100 items were sold, ranging from exotic trips to foreign countries to one of Jay Leno’s autographed motorcycles. Many important unknown military supporters stepped up to the plate and donated millions of dollars to support the Wounded Warrior Project, which is a vital organization for our military’s wounded. NBC’s Bob Costas was the host for the main event, which was held in the Grand Ballroom. Many public and military figures were in the crowd, such as the U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and actor Gary Sinise (Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump), among others.
To date, over 45,000 members of the United States Armed Forces have been physically wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Studies estimate that more than 300,000 will suffer the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and the WWP offers programs to help everyone who needs assistance at no charge.
We also were taken on a private tour of the Ground Zero Memorial. The architect/developer invited us up to their studio to overlook the site.
The Wounded Warrior Project has helped me many times with issues and has supported my rehabilitation process when I was hospitalized by taking me on trips that jump started my new life with activities such as skiing in Aspen, CO only 5 months after I became a triple amputee. The money raised will ensure other veterans will be able to experience these rehabilitative trips at no cost for years to come.