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Las Vegas, NV—In just one month twenty wives and daughters of our fallen heroes will be attending the Fourth Annual Project Gratitude initiative at the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas. The highlight of their VIP visit will be a ceremony 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 Thursday, courtesy of American Airlines. They will be guests of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, and attend special events throughout their stay culminating with being 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, 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.

To be part of this event via in-kind or monetary donation please contact Shana Smith at shana@gotyourbacknetwork.org or Kathleen Gagg at kathleen.gagg@yahoo.com

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The Got Your Back Network will host a holiday party to ring in the season.
On Dec. 19 at 6 p.m, at the beautiful Pacific Events Center on Camp Pendleton, the exclusive surviving family only event will celebrate the holiday season.
“We’re looking forward to hosting so many families of our fallen heroes,” said Shana Smith, event chair. “Being able to hold events like this further the mission of the Got Your Back Network by creating a network between individual families creating a much larger community.”
The party will include appetizers and a guest visit by Santa Clause – make sure you are staying on his ‘Nice’ list.
Surviving families please RSVP to Shana@Gotyourbacknetwork.org by December 12.
Got Your Back Network connects with military families who have lost a spouse or parent while serving our country. Our goal is to give comfort, answer a special need, offer guidance and bring a brighter day.

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September 11 is now more than just a date on the calendar, it’s a day in our lives that will forever be linked to New York City and our war on terror. It’s a day that many people congregate and talk about where they were on that day. Each of us remembers where we were when we heard the news, most of us didn’t turn the tv off for days. I had just gotten home from a vacation to Mexico, thankfully I had decided not to extend my trip as I had hoped. I turned on the television and saw the second plane hit the tower and thought it was so horrible that things like that happened in the world and was so happy it wasn’t in the US. Then the newscaster said it was New York City… I almost passed out. That event was the start of a new life for all of us, a new way of so many things but it was also what prompted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have now resulted in more than 6600 service members lives taken.
On September 11, 2012 we were graced with the presence of 4 families of the fallen at Petco park for a Padres game. A night that was shared with laughter, food and good old American baseball. We are so glad that these families braved the cold AND the rain to spend that evening with us. We look forward to seeing you all again soon.

On September 26 will be out last Padres game of the year, we still have a few tickets left if anyone is interested please email me at shana@gotyourbacknetwork.org to RSVP.

Each year we remember those who lost their lives on 9/11 however we cannot only remember them on this date but keep their memories alive everyday… the same rings true for our men and women in uniform. Please remember lives lost and those still fighting every.

Shana

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Board Members Shana Smith and Ali Koppel have signed up to run this years San Diego Color Run to raise funds and awareness for families of our fallen.  This will be each of their first official ‘races’ however this one is more about fun than time.  If you haven’t seen pictures or heard about a Color Run you are in for a treat; basically as you run people stop you and douse you with color.  You start in the race requirement of all white however by the end you look as though you lost the fight with Sherwin Williams!   
The Got Your Back team looking for teammates to run with us who are passionate about the cause and want to have A LOT of fun!  Please sign up to run with us or, if you can’t please consider a monetary donation to support Got Your Back and our mission.

If you would like to donate towards Shana and Ali’s run and support their efforts for families of our fallen please click HERE.

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We wanted to celebrate the end of summer and the welcoming back to school with a beach party on August 25! All families of the fallen are invited to attend.
We thought it would be great to have everyone bring something to share however the hot dogs and hamburgers are on us! Please email Shana@gotyourbacknetwork.org or Ali at avaleskak@yahoo.com to RSVP.

We are looking forward to a great day of fun in the sun and hope to see you all there!

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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