Thursday, September 25, 2008

MilBlog Conference - Wrap Up

One of the things we do every year at the MilBlog Conference is pick a charity to support. The Milbloggie winners each get a substantial donation made in their name to that Charity in addition to their other gifts. Meanwhile during the conference we also take up a collection to add to those donations being made by our conference sponsor USAA.

The total amount this year: $4560.00

This year the Charity of choice was.....The Mike Stokely Foundation.

Andi just informed me that she has delivered the check to Robert Stokely and as is typical, he is humbled to be honored as such.

I was proud to be a part of this endeavor, when Andi emailed me before the start of the Conference and asked if there was any way I could get the Foundation's Tax ID number I jumped at the chance, even though it required me to tell a little white lie to Robert in the meantime. I'm so sorry Robert, but I knew the reason was a good one.

Robert gladly complied and let me in on what the Foundation has been up to and what it is planning on doing in the future. He wrote:

Certainly, a donation from the source you heard from would be helpful as we have really drawn down the account this past year with:
-endowment of the $26,000 scholarship at Mike's college, Georgia Military-purchasing a book a month for 30 underprivileged children
-over a thousand pounds of school supplies sent to Yusufiyah Iraq (where Mike served and died) and distributed by the 101st Airborne Division
-doubling up on high school scholarships from the three normally given a year to six
-a special needs scholarship recently given a nursing student in her third year having trouble purchasing books for classes
-$1000 to Georgia Military to kick off the first scholarship award (later this month) so that the $25,000 endowment can grow another year

I can promise that any donation will be used for a very good purpose to help kids in need have books or go to school. Donations can be to the general fund or for a designated purpose outlined above. We are planning another "Yusufiyah" Project for early next year and hope to send an even bigger shipment of supplies there. I even hope to accompany the supplies (at my personal expense and not the Foundation's) and distribute them - but, that is a long shot to be approved.

If I know Robert, somehow he will be there in Yusufiyah next year passing out schools supplies, and looking at that picture of his son Sgt Mike Stokely on the wall of that school. I hope to be able to accompany him on that mission, but as he says, that is a long shot to be approved.

Robert concluded by saying:
We didn't have a choice about whether Mike lived that early morning at 0220 hours outside the village of Muhlafayed , just two miles from Mike's FOB at Yusufiyah. But, we do have a choice how we will handle Mike's death. We could have chosen to blame in bitterness, but instead, we chose to REMEMBER WITH HONOR a life lived well and given as Mike remained true to his core values - DUTY HONOR COUNTRY. The Mike Stokely Foundation, Inc. was formed on our front porch as Retta and I sat pondering "what do we do now" in the first few hours after we learned of Mike's death. It was our first step to ensure that Mike's legacy of caring and doing for others continued. The Foundation seeks to help a lot of kids go a long way in life.

But, I have to be honest with you, our approach to handling Mike's death is somewhat selfish, for it is our way of standing up to those who killed Mike and sending a message - they may have taken his life, but you didn't kill his spirit or our will to continue on living full and happy lives.

If serving others and following your purpose in life is called being selfish, then please Robert keep being as selfish as you want to be.

We will never forget.
I also want to personally thank everyone of you that participated in this event, The Staff of The Thunder Run thank you for supporting one of our own.
David Marron

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