To those whose life has been dealt the worst, have given life their best in return.
~ Coach Slow
We sometimes meet people who make us stop in our tracks, and take a long look at the kind of life we want to lead. They are the ones who not only inspire by their contributions to a cause, they make you want to be a better person.
We were recently connected with Karla Malone, founder of VIP Warriors. We learned about her grassroots organization and the impact she has had on helping the brave, stay brave.
Perhaps the ability to dedicate your heart to such a cause comes from a place of empathy. That’s part of Karla’s story. From their website:
VIP warriors was founded by Karla Malone, a mom to a combat wounded Naval service member and an Air Force service-connected veteran. She is the daughter of a Korean War Navy Veteran, sister to a Navy and Army veteran.
Her passion started while volunteering at Bethesda Naval and Walter Reed hospitals beginning in 2006.
Her passion for engaging the wounded veteran community continues to change lives of wounded veterans and their families.
As a military hospital volunteer in DC, Karla saw the despondency in the eyes of young soldiers who had once been so vital and capable. Indestructible — until severe injuries and loss of limbs stole dreams of the future.
How do you find the words to understand this kind of loss? How can worried families support something they can’t truly understand?
These are soldiers literally struck down in their prime with no idea about how to navigate their new reality, literally and figuratively.
After Karla’s first-hand experience of meeting these men and women and seeing that funding for veterans’ programs was not always allocated to support the veterans themselves, she was encouraged to start her own non-profit.
Karla’s mission is to do whatever possible to help heal veterans and their families. She is putting the power of her own personal experiences and those of the people she has met behind one program that is changing lives. ” ‘For they gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she possessed – all she had to live on.’ (Mark 12:44).”
Central Florida/Tampa Bay Athletic Organization
In this first year, what Karla has built is a community. A community of veterans who are damaged — both inside and out. She shared with us stories of despair; soldiers feeling broken and abandoned. Their struggles so personal, yet so universal.
Karla and a small, but loyal band of volunteers now engage wounded veterans from all branches and eras of combat to train, regain confidence, and participate in athletic endurance events.
VIP Warriors is working to slowly rebuild what they have lost by integrating them back into society; a society that gives support, and provides them the means to support one another. Their victories belong to the team.
- The vets train during the week, cycling 4-5 days/week.
- There’s a Tuesday ride.
- Running on Mondays and Wednesdays.
- Swim training that is open to all.
- Then they participate in local events like annual rides and triathlons.
What they once saw as shortcomings, are now presented as opportunities…to try and to succeed. This group looks out for one another, they are protective, they are enthusiastic about individual progress, they are spreading the word that there are people who understand, who care.
After reluctantly getting involved, one vet said, “I now have a reason to live.”
This organization will fill your heart with the best of human nature. These soldiers demonstrate true profiles in courage. They show up. They put in the work. They are thriving. They want to help more vets.
What they need are:
Funds – You can donate on their Facebook page.
Volunteers – You can email Karla Malone to give of your time, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Awareness – People to understand what it is like to be so fundamentally changed, and then have to learn how to find a way back. Visit VIPWarriors.org.
Understanding – No vet is alone when he or she bands with brothers and sisters to take back what is theirs. Share this story with someone you know who feels alone.
Get involved and experience how truly brave Americans fight back.
If you would like us to share your own Looking for Good story, please submit your contact information here.
“If you look for good, you will find it.” – Coach Slow