2016 Navy Women’s Lacrosse W4V Award


Congratulations to Meghan Hubley, recipient of the 2nd annual Wings for Val #6 Navy Women’s Lacrosse Award!

We started this tradition last year to recognize a current Navy Women’s Lacrosse player who exhibits similar team spirit and hustle as Val did. Val (’09) wore the #6 jersey proudly and was the heart and soul of her team during its transition from a club sport to Division 1 even though she was far from being the best player. She is remembered by her teammates as being a source of positive encouragement for those above and below her no matter what the situation.

Molly McNamara, a 2016 graduate who majored in Cyber Operations and selected to train for submarines upon graduation, was chosen by her coaches to receive this award last year and returned to Annapolis for her team’s alumni night this past weekend. Unfortunately, no one from our family could be there to present this year’s award, but Val’s good friend and fellow teammate, Caitlin Hill (’09), happily stepped up to do so… and we heard from her that the event was a resounding success!! Meghan Hubley, a graduating Quantitative Economics major and future Surface Warfare Officer, now joins Molly with their names engraved on custom plaque that hangs proudly in the lacrosse locker room as a reminder of the legacy their fallen alumni and teammate.

We are honored that Val’s story can be passed down to the current NWL players over the years through this award as a source of inspiration to them on their life’s journey and as a reminder of the powerful collective strength  they give one another, during their time at Navy and beyond.

Thanks to all who made this alumni night possible and we look forward to continuing to support to Navy team for many years to come. Go Navy, beat EVERYONE!






W4V 2016 Event Weekend was OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!


We reached beyond the sky when we sent a request months in advance to NASA for a female astronaut to be our keynote speaker at our 2nd annual Wings for Val Foundation event … and we were shocked and thrilled when we received notice that LtCol Nicole Mann had been approved to participate. Having the opportunity to spend the day with this incredibly inspiring, humble, hard working, kind, selfless and fearless woman whose career has taken her on a journey towards outer space made me truly believe in the words she signs in her autographs, “The sky is NOT the limit!”

We couldn’t have dreamed up a more successful series of events last weekend, helping us to raise over $12,000 and counting towards our mission of honoring my sister Val’s legacy by inspiring the next generation of females to spread their own wings and soar!

We had some great press coverage leading up to our event thanks to Lisa Hawkins an Annapolis-based PR superstar who volunteers with the Travis Manion Foundation. Here are a few of the media highlights:fullsizerender-3

We met LtCol Mann first thing on Saturday morning for a breakfast social event we sponsored at the Naval Academy with over 250 midshipmen interested in careers in aviation. We had the opportunity to share Val’s story and then LtCol Mann, USNA Class of ’99, shared her career path from Annapolis to Houston and soon-to-be outer space! The students were so inspired by her talk and enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions, socialize, and get autographs.

Later in the afternoon we welcomed over 150 people from all walks of life to the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery to learn more about Val and our Foundation and to hear from LtCol Mann and several other inspiring speakers. We were thrilled to have LtCol Mann add her wings to the Wings for Val exhibit, along with three additional sets from female aviators that were given to us. After a beautiful performance of the National Anthem by Gold Star mother, Cathy Mullins, I had the honor of debuting an incredible short film that was made for us by 3 Penny Films, which can be viewed through this link: https://vimeo.com/181830039. As this video beautifully showcases, our family has embraced Val’s motto to “ADAPT AND OVERCOME” the tragedy of our loss by allowing Val’s legacy to take flight, using the powerful metaphor of the wings to inspire others to fearlessly and selflessly reach forward and reach behind on the path towards spreading one’s own wings.

These messages were reinforced throughout the event, first by the stories of two very special women and gold star survivors, Amy Looney from the Travis Manion Foundation and Pam Valliere from the Navy Gold Star Program who both shared how they have also turned personal tragedies into transformation and incredible acts of service.

LtCol Mann then delivered a phenomenal keynote address about how she has committed to a purpose much larger than herself through her career in the Marine Corps and now with NASA preparing the next generation for future missions to Mars. It was so cool getting a glimpse into a career that so many only dream of and to realize that becoming an astronaut is not magic, nor does it happen over night… it happens with years of hard work, persistence, fearlessness, reliance on others and a deep commitment to serving a larger purpose. We are so thankful to LtCol Mann for her thoughtful preparation of her inspiring presentation and for sticking around to sign autographs and mingle with our attendees. We can’t wait to continue following her and her fellow classmates during their time with NASA!


Last but not least, we had a special appearance by Rick Yount, CEO, of Warrior Canine Connection, an organization in Boyds, MD that enlists recovering warriors in a therapeutic mission of learning to train service dogs for their fellow Veterans. Rick introduced everyone last year to a tiny little puppy named Delaney, named after our Val, who has now, by fate, been adopted by my parents and continues her service training and work as a therapy dog. We had several other service dogs in training and “puppy parents” in attendance, and this was a huge hit! We admire the work of WCC so much that we presented Rick with a very special painting of a black lab by John Bramblitt, a completely blind artist who my dad had met at a No Barriers USA conference in 2014.


After the program, we had a wonderful reception in the main exhibit gallery with amazing food catered by Mission BBQ and beer provided by Dog Tag Brewing, a brand with a foundation that honors fallen heroes and supports gold star families.

The excitement continued through on Sunday!! We participated in TMF’s Annapolis 9/11 Heroes Run and had over 180 people on our Wings for Val team (up from 60 people last year) – wow! It was a gorgeous day – perfect for running/walking the 5k or 1 mile in the neighborhoods around the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium with over 1500 runners to honor all the servicemen and women lost on 9/11. We were thrilled to have the entire Navy Women’s Lacrosse team participate on our team in their fellow fallen teammate’s memory, and to connect them with many local youth lacrosse girls!

We can’t thank each and every single one of you enough for your continued support and encouragement. This was a huge weekend for us, for our country honoring the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and also for the Naval Academy celebrating 40 years of women at the Academy. We are so proud, humbled, and motivated to keep up this important work!

TMF & W4V Partner to Build Character & Leadership Among UMBC Female Athletes

On Sunday August 14, Wings for Val (W4V) mentors and Travis Manion Foundation (TMF) ambassadors spent an amazing day with the UMBC Women’s Volleyball and Soccer teams at Genesse Valley Outdoor Learning Center in North Baltimore.

TMF’s Character Does Matter program engages veterans and survivors of the fall to inspire young adults to live with character, to develop their leadership skills and to serve their communities in honor of our nation’s fallen heroes with an “If not me, then who?” mentality. Pat Cappelaere (Val’s dad and Chairman of W4V) has been trained as  an ambassador for this program and and uses it as a vehicle to tell Val’s story to inspire future generations of female leaders.

We had the opportunity to partner with TMF for this amazing team-building day tailored specifically for the UBMC Women’s volleyball and soccer team. Several of our female mentors, including Navy Women’s Lacrosse alumni who are now accomplished Navy and Marine Corps officers, served as volunteers for the day’s events.

After morning discussions about character, leadership, and inspirational story of our fallen heroes, the teams went out and with the guidance of TMF and W4V advisors, completed a series of physical and psychological obstacles. Throughout the day’s challenges, they learned to “Adapt and Overcome” their fears on the high elements and are now ready to live the mantra of “If not me, then who”.

It was a privilege to support TMF in this progam and in the development of the female athletes of the UMBC’s volleyball and soccer teams. Thank you to our mentors that came to support the event – Andrea Phipps, Caitlin Hill, Dominique Wright, Mia Hencinski, and Cami Hines. Good luck to the UMBC athletes as they start their seasons – we hope to make it to a game to cheer you on! And we hope to see you all at our event on Sept 10 and that you will join team Wings for Val in the TMF 9/11 Heroes run! wingsforvalfoundation2.eventbrite.com


Register now on Team W4V in the Annapolis 9/11 Heroes Run!

We are just about a month away for our big event weekend and we are hoping to make some big promotional pushes in the coming weeks… so exciting! All event weekend details can be found at wingsforvalfoundation2.eventbrite.com but below are the newly revised instructions for registering to join our Team Wings for Val in Sunday’s 9/11 Heroes Run. Last year we had 65 runners on our team, and this year we are hoping to have the biggest team ever with 100+ runners and to reach a fundraising goal of $10,000, so WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Instructions for registering and fundraising:

1) To register to run as part of the Wings for Val team in the Annapolis 9/11 Heroes Run, you will now register through the Travis Manion Foundation’s registration site. Here is the direct link for our Wings for Val Team page: https://www.classy.org/checkout/register?eid=81556&ftid=85420

2) There is a special coupon code you will enter to receive the negotiated discounted registration cost anytime between now and deadline of 8/31.  The discount registration coupon code is – WINGSFORVAL2016. 

3) Proceeds raised through registrations via the W4V team race registration page will go towards both organizations. If you wish to do additional fundraising specifically for W4V, you can use and share our unique fundraising page on Classy: https://www.classy.org/annapolis/events/wings-for-val-team-travis-manion-annapolis-9/11-heroes-run/e83763 and click the “Donate now” button. This is different than the personal fundraising page that will be automatically set up for you when you register through TMF, so be sure to use the above URL if you want funds to go to W4V specifically. 

4) Registration deadline is 8/31 so don’t delay! Contact Allison Righter (acrighter@gmail.com) with any questions on this process, including if you want to participate as a virtual runner.

This race is such a blast each year and we commend the Travis Manion Foundation for all they do to honor the fallen by challenging the living! Please show your support for both our organizations by joining team Wings for Val!!




We had 65 runners participate on our W4V team last year and are looking for 100+ runners this year!!

Would you go to Mars?

Meet one of the four female NASA astronauts who can’t wait to go!

Bring the whole family to the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, September 10 to be inspired and transformed. Help us raise money to support females pursuing careers in aviation and to development leadership programs in memory of LT Valerie Delaney, a fearless fighter pilot who selflessly served our country and her comrades. This 2nd annual event will feature a transformational program, followed by a networking reception with awesome Mission BBQ food and appearances by several service dogs from Warrior Canine Connection. The event is free and open to the public and donations are encouraged!

RSVP now by visiting wingsforvalfoundation2.eventbrite.com, and help us spread the word!



W4V Loves Mission BBQ

Mission BBQ serves up some pretty darn good barbecue but they also proudly serve those who serve our country and strive every day to remind everyone what makes our country great- its heroes. Each of their restaurants is covered with memorabilia of our service men and women, and every day at noon the entire restaurant stops to sing the national anthem. True patriotism at its finest.

We have been blessed to have become close friends with co-owner Bill Kraus and many of his staff members as they have opened their doors in new locations across Maryland and around the country.

We were blown away when they asked to feature Val in the first video of their series, “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories of Service” about a year ago, and we have continued to be blown away by the special memories we’ve shared with them since. Here are two examples of recent moments:


In downtown Annapolis Mission BBQ, Val’s #6 lax jersey with Colonel Liszewski, the current Commandant of Midshipmen. Pat presented him with Val’s Challenge Coin. 


If you haven’t  yet been to a Mission BBQ restaurant, you’re missing out. Check their listing of locations to see if there is one near you — they are popping up all over! http://mission-bbq.com/locations 

You can also get a tasting of their food at our upcoming September fundraising event at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday 9/10 from 3-6pm where we will be featuring a female NASA astronaut as our keynote speakers and enjoying an amazing bbq reception. Here are the details and we hope to see you there! wingsforvalfoundation2.eventbrite.com



First Female Blue Angel Pilot Donates Her Wings to our W4V Collection!


Capt. Katie Higgins made the headlines last summer when she became the first female to fly with the elite Blue Angels aerobatics squandron during shows. As a USNA graduate and Marine Corps Captain, Higgins trained to fly C-130s, the military’s workhorse cargo plane, then deployed to Afghanistan and Uganda. She grew up admiring the Blue Angels and now this third-generation military aviator gets to thrill crowds on “Fat Albert” for 300 days of the year.

We reached out to Capt. Higgins to see if there was any possible chance that one of her “days off” aligned with our upcoming September event. As we expected, this was not the case; BUT we were so enamored by her kind, prompt replies and sincere interest in supporting the work of our Foundation (while she didn’t know Val at the Naval Academy, she said they had many mutual friends.) She even sent us a set of her pilot’s wings to add to our Wings for Val collection at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington.


We will be honored to add this set of wings to our collection of fellow female aviators with the continued hope that they may inspire others to follow in the footsteps of these amazing women, showing similar character, leadership and fearlessness.

“I think that by including a lady on the team that just shows little girls and guys that women can do whatever they put their mind to. Little girls have told me that they didn’t even know that ladies can fly aircrafts, that women could be in the cockpit,” Capt. Higgins told CBS of her historic accomplishment.

As the Blue Angels team resumes flying for this special July 4th weekend, we want to thank them for their service and amazing dedication.  We will stand proud in front of our flag with our eyes up in the sky with some tears for our missing ones.
“Lord, guard and guide the ones who fly
And those who on the ocean ply;
Be with our troops upon the land,
And all who for their country stand:
Be with these guardians day and night
And may their trust be in thy might
-Author unknown, about 1955 “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”