Today is Chris’s birthday. I’m writing today to share some great news with you and to invite you to join me in celebrating Chris and his legacy.
It is hard to believe that it was only 5 months ago that we launched the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation on Veterans Day. Since then, we’ve had the low moments that remain a part of our grieving process, but we’ve also been able to experience new hope as we have worked to build something good with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation. For that, I am incredibly grateful.
After the holidays, our team went through the exciting process of publicly launching the foundation with an 8-city benefit screening of the film American Sniper. Since that launch, we’ve seen the public embrace the American Sniper movie, shattering records with their support. Under the surface of that success, behind all of the photos and red carpets and interviews, our team has been working to build the kind of foundation that serves as a lasting legacy honoring the passionate, fierce, protective, intense, loving, mischief-making man that was my husband. Today, on Chris’s birthday, I’m excited to share with you the some of the results of that work.
April 8 used to be a great day in our family, but to be honest it has been difficult to feel anything other than an overwhelming sense of loss on Chris’s birthday over the past 2 years. What should be a day celebrating an extraordinary life has instead been a day of almost unbearable sadness and reflection. This year we’re doing something different: We are celebrating Chris’s birthday with some very special gifts. It is my absolute pleasure to announce the inaugural Chris Kyle Birthday Grants. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating these special birthday gifts, because all of this is made possible by YOUR support.
We wanted to do something special to launch the Foundation’s programming and also reclaim April 8 as a day of celebration – and so, the Chris Kyle Birthday Grants were born. As the Foundation grows our giving will continue to evolve and change, but here’s what I know for sure: The Kyle Family and the CKFF family will celebrate Chris by giving and serving.
This year’s inaugural Birthday Grants are given to organizations we respect and trust. They have programming in alignment with our mission to serve those who serve us, with a strong focus on the family. These organizations share our core values and are led by people dedicated to Loyalty, Empowerment, Integrity, and Excellence. And because we stand by our core values and vow to be careful stewards of your support, we also examined their financial records and annual reports to make sure that these grants are going to organizations that focus on programs. I wish our team could make a fancy drum roll happen about now…but those kinds of bells and whistles just don’t make the budget, so I’ll just list out below the 2015 Chris Kyle Birthday Grant recipients. Happy Birthday, Chris.
The Boot Campaign (BC) Military Recovery Fund: The Boot Campaign was started by a group of amazing Texas women who wanted civilians to get involved with supporting our military community. The Boot Campaign team been personally supportive of our efforts to launch CKFF and have done a phenomenal job raising awareness of military issues. In fact, I’m a proud Boot Campaign Ambassador. CKFF’s $10,000 grant to the Boot Campaign will be designated to their Military Recovery Fund. The Military Recovery Fund provides emergency relief to veterans who meet certain criteria. All recipients are fully vetted by the Boot Campaign team, and these grants are critical to helping our vets as they make that sometimes rocky transition into civilian life. Chris and I were one of the first supporters of the MRF and we are still supporting it together. You can learn more about the Boot Campaigns Military Recovery Fund here.
Quality of Life Foundation: You may not have heard of the Quality of Life Foundation because their programs are focused on assisting a small population of our nation’s most critically wounded service members—those who need continuing and long-term care. Their mission is to focus on the quality of life needs of family members and care givers so that they can continue to focus on their hero’s recovery and long-term care. Furthermore, QoLF’s Executive Director, Rachel O’Hern, is one of our heroes. Rachel is an Army spouse who was just named the Pentagon Spouse of the Year and she has some experience walking the walk. In 2010 Rachel’s husband, Larkin, was severely wounded in Afghanistan. As a result of her experience supporting Larkin’s recovery Rachel decided to pursue her master’s degree in social work, focusing on the needs of military families, which led her to QoLF. We’re honored to contribute $25,000 to programming that will directly impact the families served by QoLF.
Michigan American Legion Wilwin Lodge: As many of you know, Chris loved the outdoors and believed in the restorative power of time spent in the calm and peace of our American wilderness. Our family benefitted greatly from times spent together in the middle of nowhere—and still does. I treasure those memories, which is one of the reasons why we selected Wilwin Lodge for a $10,000 Birthday Grant. Wilwin’s mission is “to provide a premiere facility that can care for disabled and handicapped veterans in a relaxed atmosphere… and to use the property as a reconnect center for returning war veterans and their families after long deployments.” Wilwin Lodge is staffed primarily by volunteers who recognize the special healing power of retreating to the outdoors and the good that can come from enjoying a natural environment as a family. We’re grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this special place.
FDNY Foundation: The cost of service, the protection of our society, is born by more than just our military. First responders–our police, firefighters, and EMTs–also face challenging and dangerous environments that place additional stress on family life. CKFF is proud to honor that service with a grant of $10,000 to the FDNY Foundation’s Family Assistance Unit. As the official non-profit organization of the New York City Fire Department, FDNY Foundation works to support of members of the FDNY. FDNY has a sterling reputation based on their transparency, accountability, and financial management. The Family Assistance Unit provides funding to families of the fallen, as well as acting as assistants with medical care and counseling for those firefighters/families who need assistance due to work related injuries. At his core, Chris was a protector and I think he would approve.
None of this would have been possible without our supporters. Thank you, thank you, thank you. As time goes by, we’ll check back in to let you know more about how these grants have affected our military and first responder families. Soon, we’ll also have information to share about our CKFF Revitalization Retreats for married couples. We hope you’ll stay in touch and continue with us on this journey.