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The summer is winding down and school is starting, much to the chagrin of all students.. whether that’s you, your children or both! Got Your Back Network is trying to finish 2012 strong and plan a few more events to commemorate another year. We are in the process of planning end of summer and end of year get togethers as well as starting the planning on 2013 events. So many exciting things coming up for you! As soon as we confirm dates for our upcoming events we will send the invites out. ALL families of the fallen are invited however, depending on the number of tickets received for each event, RSVP’s will be required. These events are put on for you, a fun day to enjoy yourselves, your children and each other. Please don’t hesitate to forward invitations or information to other families that you know – the more the merrier.
Also being the end of summer, we are updating our Got Your Back database – making sure that all information is correct to ensure invitations and information pertinent to you and your area. Being able to include each of you and grow the organization is our number one priority.
If you are already registered with Got Your Back you will have received a form this week to update/complete your information (name, birthday, address, etc), if you didn’t receive please email Shana@gotyourbacknetwork.org as we may have an incorrect email address on file. If you have not registered please go to the ‘CONTACT” tab and fill in the information.
Lastly, we would love to host a few surviving spouses on our blog. If you would like to write about your experiences with Got Your Back, information you think that other surviving spouses/families need to know we would love to talk to you. Please email Shana@gotyourbacknetwork.org or Ali@gotyourbacknetwork.org with your post.

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The past 6 months have lent themselves to so many new relationships and memories it’s hard to recap in one post.  One of the things that makes Got Your Back Network special is that our events are host to smaller groups, groups that allow everyone to get to know each other better and make the connections that are needed.  We feel that it should be a big family, one that laughs together and cries together.

To recap 2012 so far is hard as there are so many perfect memories from our time with Project Gratitude in Las Vegas, to founder Andy Baldwin making martinis, LA Angels player Albert Pujols posing for pictures and holding a child of the fallen and watching the Jimenez Family throw out the first pitch at a MLB game.  Memories that will last a lifetime for all involved.

In May we held our Annual Martinis and Makeovers fundraising event in La Jolla, CA.  This was our Martinis & Makeovers fundraiser on the West Coast, historically this event has been held in Washington, DC.  We were honored to have 15 of our surviving spouses join us for makeovers courtesy of Autelier Salon and Zino International with signature martini’s donated by Patron’s Ultimate Vodka.  This was made possible largely by the donation of space at the lovely Cuvier Club in downtown La Jolla, we couldn’t be more grateful for their support of the families of our fallen.  Several widows courageously stood and shared their husband/wife’s memory and their story to other attendees, they shared their struggles and with that their inspiration filled the room.   The monies raised that night went to fund various GYBN programs, as an all volunteer organization all money goes back to programs for the families.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hosted three events for families of our fallen at Angel Stadium.   Two of these events enabled a total of 10 families and their children to be down on the field during batting practice.  The children and their moms were able to meet players like Trout, Trumbo, Hunter and crowd favorite Albert Pujols.  I’m not sure who was more giddy, the moms or their children.  On Memorial Day, the Angels invited the Jimenez Family to throw out the first pitch in their game against the NY Yankees in honor of their hero 1LT Oscar Jimenez.  As with most of the GYBN events, several families were able to meet for the first time and forge relationships with each other sometimes even finding that their husbands had the same MOS or were even stationed at other duty stations at the same time.

For the second year the Got Your Back Network was invited to the USS Midway to accept a very generous donation from the American Freedom Foundation for our work with families of our fallen.  We are very thankful for our relationship with the American Freedom Foundation.

What a whirlwind last few months and we are looking forward to the rest of the year and what 2013 has in store for us.  As always, if you are a family of the fallen please register with us to stay informed of all upcoming events.

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A night of enjoyment and relaxation hosted by Got Your Back Network to honor surviving spouses of our fallen soldiers.  There will be music, appetizers, a silent auction and signature Martinis sponsored by Patron’s Ultimat Vodka.

A $40 donation is suggested (please indicate CA M&M in the message box).





May 3rd, 2012 6-9pm
Cuvier Club
7776 Eads Avenue
LaJolla, CA 92037

RSVP shana@gotyourbacknetwork.org
Please indicate on your RSVP if you are a surviving spouse.

Print the Martinis & Makeovers Flyer

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And here’s the video to prove it! Way to go Andy!! Thank you for your support. We’re so happy that we were able to raise over 3k with this fantastic run. This is going to a great cause, helping families of our fallen! Please support our troops. You can still donate $5, $35 or $105. Whatever it is, it goes to a great cause.

Dr. Andy Baldwin Finishes 35 Miles on his 35th Birthday

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for you to donate 35 dollars to Got Your Back Network, and I’m running 35 miles to prove it. – Dr. Andy Baldwin

On Andy’s Birthday (Feb. 5th), he will be running 35 miles to raise money for the families of fallen soldiers through Got Your Back Network!  All he asks is if you donate $35 to the organization.  There will be many locals coming out to run, walk, and be there for support and raise awareness for the cause.  Go to the donate button on the home page to contribute to GYBN and help families of fallen soldiers.

$35 for 35 on February 5!!  Thank you for your support!! #SOT

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Fallen heroes’ wives, daughters and mother are recognized as “Honorary Miss Americas” at the 2012 Miss America pageant; VIP itinerary includes day spa, shows, VIP seating at Miss America Finals, visits with celebrities

Las Vegas, NV—The Third Annual Project Gratitude brings twenty-two wives, daughters and one mother of fallen heroes to the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas. The highlight of their VIP visit will be a ceremony Friday evening January 13th when each will be “pinned” by former Miss Americas with a crown pin, symbolizing their status as the newest honorary Miss Americas.

The guests will travel from around the country into Las Vegas on Wednesday, courtesy of American Airlines. They will be guests of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, and attend the Blue Man Group, CSI Experience, and will be royally pampered at the Canyon Ranch Spa on Saturday just in time to watch the Miss America Finals “live” (6 PM PST on ABC) from their VIP seats.

“We started Project Gratitude out of a deep, heartfelt sense of gratitude and highest respect for the ultimate sacrifice that was made by our nation’s fallen heroes and their families,” explains Sharlene Hawkes, former Miss America and President of Remember My Service Productions. “By recognizing each of the women and their daughters as honorary Miss Americas–and giving them the VIP experience that Miss Americas have received over the years–it is just our way of doing what we can to pay tribute to these great Americans.”

The chairman of Project Gratitude is Kathleen Gagg, Co-Founder of Camp Better America and Executive Director of the Got Your Back Network, who has organized a broad group of volunteers and sponsors to support the tribute (see below for more information about the sponsors) each year.” We are so honored and humbled to do our part in helping return the salute to these incredible families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice”, stated Kathleen Gagg.

Art McMaster, CEO of the Miss America Organization stated, “We are extremely proud to help bring together families who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country for a truly memorable weekend. During Miss America week, many experiences are shared, friendships are gained and memories are made with these amazing families that will forever become a part of this Miss America family. We are so honored and feel privileged to have them join us for the pageant this month.”

Project Gratitude Thanks These Generous Sponsors:

American Airlines

Air Compassion for Veterans
“Air Compassion for Veterans partnered with the American Airlines Veteran’s Initiative is proud to be able to provide the air transportation for the mothers and children of Project Gratitude to be present at the famous Miss America pageant in Las Vegas.  Our mission and purpose are to provide travel for healing and rehabilitation for wounded warriors and their adversely affected family members.  Binding up wounds and uniting America is the goal.  Thanks for letting us participate.”  Contact: Ed Boyer  757-271-2286

Planet Hollywood

Miss America Organization

Warrior Gateway

“Warrior Gateway is honored to be a part of Project Gratitude in supporting the widows and daughters of our fallen military members.  Initiatives such as Project Gratitude show how communities across the nation can step up to work together and support the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Alongside Got Your Back Network and The Miss America Organization as well as other partners, we are honored to join these families of our fallen in Las Vegas for the Miss America pageant.” said Devin B. Holmes, CEO of Warrior Gateway. “Warrior Gateway remains committed to supporting all members of the military community as they return home and seek out their new normal life.” Contact: Devin Holmes (202) 695-3668

Got Your Back Network
“Got Your Back Network is pleased to partner with the Miss America organization to provide a very unique and “once in a lifetime” experience for surviving wives and their daughters. Shared experiences are the highlight of memories and we are happy to be able to plan, organize and implement the Project Gratitude event. We thank all the volunteers, contributors and organizations that have made Project Gratitude possible. “ Contact: Roy E. Baldwin, President 973-670-3940

CSI Experience
“On behalf of CSI: The Experience we are honored to have the widows and daughters of fallen military members visit our interactive experience as part of the initiative called Project Gratitude.  Obviously, words cannot begin to express the debt we owe to our service men and women who give their lives in defense of our country.  We only hope that we can give these families an enjoyable experience as our way of showing them a portion of the appreciation that they deserve.”
Contact: Ava Bahnam Wideen 702.742.6814

Chilton Hospital : contact Anna Scalora 973-831-5496

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This January, bereaved widows and daughters of fallen military members will attend the Miss America Finals courtesy of an initiative called Project Gratitude. This will bring together families that have suffered similar losses for a weekend of fun and bonding. During this time many experiences are shared, friendships are gained and memories are made.

We are currently seeking gift bag or monetary donations for this 3rd annual event. Please visit our sponsor page to learn more about the wonderful sponsors who have already generously donated to this event! Show how important these families are by contacting shana@gotyourbacknetwork.org for information. Thank you so much for your support, we all appreciate it!

Getting ready for Miss America

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“Got Your Back Network” (GYBN), www.gotyourbacknetwork.org, is the primary charity of the ZOOMA run event in Colorado Springs, CO on July 17th, 2011. Executives from ZOOMA expect to have thousands of runners participating in the event on Sunday. Among the runners will be several widows of fallen soldiers who will be participating in the event.

GYBN is reaching out to runners, military organizations, NGOs and defense companies to ask people to register to participate at the ZOOMA run event in Colorado Springs, CO on July 16 and 17th, 2011. You can register at www.gotyourbacknetwork.org by clicking on the ZOOMA icon. On June 16th there is pre-race registration, race packet pickup and marketplace expo at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. The running event is on Sunday, July 17th with running distances of 10 K and a half marathon. The ZOOMA after-party expo will be held at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort after the runs. Please check the www.zoomarun.com website for more information.

If you have any questions please contact me at rebaldwin1@verizon.net or calling me at 717-305-0159.

Air travel arrangements made exclusively for “Got Your Back Network” by American Airlines. We thank them for their generosity and support.

Thanks, Roy

President

GYBN

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“Got Your Back Network” (GYBN), www.gotyourbacknetwork.org, is the primary charity of the ZOOMA run event in Annapolis, MD. Executives from ZOOMA expect to have 4000 runners participating in the event on Sunday. Among the runners will be several widows of fallen soldiers who will participating in the event. Dr. Vivianne Wersel, a widow from the DC Metro area, will be running on Sunday. She has had help in training for the event through her training “buddy”, Cori Koch, who works for Under Armour in Baltimore, MD.GYBN is reaching out to military organizations, NGOs and defense companies to ask for volunteers to help out with the ZOOMA run event in Annapolis, MD on June 4 and 5th, 2011. On June 4th there is pre-race registration, race packet pickup and marketplace expo at the Sheraton, Annapolis, 173 Jennifer Road, Annapolis, MD 21401. The running event is on Sunday, June 5th with running distances of 1.5 miles, 10 K and a half marathon. The ZOOMA after-party expo will be held at the End Zone of the Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium after the runs. Please check the www.zoomarun.com website for more information.

Below is a short contribution from Meghan Shepard, another widow of a fallen soldier who will be running on Sunday:

“On Sunday, you can find me somewhere in between the winner of the race and the sag wagon. I won’t be alone though. I’ll be running side-by-side with my mom and many other inspirational women. No matter what, I know that someone has “got my back”. This organization allows us to celebrate the lives of our heroes, which is pivotal to our healing journey. The journey, too, is analogous to the miles we put on the pavement- some easy and others not so much- as we train for and complete the Zooma race.  I’ve been training for the half marathon this year with an expectation to have fun! The hard work is behind me (18 miles last Saturday!) and the heat is in front of me. My main goal is to own the Naval Academy Bridge and to embrace the challenges that accompany each mile. I hope to encourage others to keep running, just as they will encourage me.  It might not be pretty, but I will finish. This week is a time to celebrate our hard work.  I’ll be participating in Zooma’s Girls Night Out and Got Your Back Network’s pre-party. If you see me at either event, then please, let’s celebrate and give a “cheers” to the men and women who serve our great country.”

If you have any questions please contact me at rebaldwin1@verizon.net or calling me at 717-305-0159.

Thanks, Roy
President
GYBN