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 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:

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: 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 ( 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, 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! 

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!



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”




Thirty Years Ago…

Today we celebrate what would have been Val’s 30th birthday. My dad found a perfect painting for this special day:


John Branblitt’s painting of Little Echo and the Butterfly

From Pat:

“Happy Birthday Val! You are thirty today. Our little black lab, service dog in training, from the Warrior Canine Connection, “Delaney”, is 11 months old and curled at my feet.   Little Echo, in the painting, is also a service dog.  There is more…

I met John Bramblitt last year at the No Barriers Summit in Utah.  He began painting after losing his sight in 2001 after a series of severe seizures. His artwork is unbelievable. You may remember Val’s motto “Adapt and Overcome”.  John is the living example of that motto and an inspiration for all of us.  Please take the time to check out his paintings and Facebook page.

We did exchange some emails regarding the special meaning of that painting for us.  We do think that our paths will cross again.  I can’t wait to get a signed copy of this painting next week.  It will likely hang next to Melissa Torres’ Poppies and Butterflies that we got last year for Doreen for Mother’s Day (see blog post here)

Wouldn’t it be cool to have John and Echo come to our Second Annual Event on Sept 10th at Women’s memorial in Arlington.  We will have more labs this year coming with their puppy parents.  Please mark the date and view the event on our Facebook page here.  Get ready to be inspired!”

Val – you are shining brightly on all of us today!

Announcing 2016 Scholarship Recipient!

We are thrilled to have awarded the 2016 LT Valerie Cappelaere Delaney Memorial Scholarship to Army Captain Danielle (Jessica) Williams, who will be using the $4,000 towards earning her private pilot’s license. Doreen, Ceecee and I had the opportunity to travel to Nashville, TN on March 10-12 for the Women in Aviation International (WAI) conference, where we presented the award, connected with our 2 past scholarship recipients and other Navy girls, and even shared Val’s story as one of the educational breakout sessions. It was an especially memorable way to spend the 3 year anniversary of Val’s passing.

2016-03-12 17.53.13

Our W4V Nashville Crew – Ashley (2015 recipient), Ceecee, Danielle (2016 recipient), me, Doreen, Chelsea (2014 recipient)

Danielle is the youngest of three daughters and a twin brother born to parents who both served in the US Army. She ran track, cross country and rowed during high school, then went to Harvard University on a 4-year ROTC scholarship and was commissioned as an army engineer in 2008. After having served as a platoon leader for a combat engineer company while deployed to Iraq and as a human resource manager for the entire battalion, she now serves as Team Leader for a Special Operations Civil Affairs team based at Fort Bragg, NC that is assigned to maintaining strategic relationships with the Armed Forces of Philippines. In 2011, Danielle went skydiving for the first time and found a new passion for human flight. Four years and over 400 jumps later, she took her first flying lesson in an airplane in January 2015 and is now on her way to completing her private pilot’s license with the goal of becoming a commercial pilot.

We are thrilled to welcome Danielle to our scholarship family, not only because she shares the same birthday month as Val (May 1986) but because she exhibits similar characteristics of hard work, perseverance, and a desire to empower other women to excel through participation in WAI.

Our two previous scholarship recipients, Chelsea and Ashley, also attended the conference and shared with us all the exciting things they’ve been up to in the past year. Ashley was even featured on the front page of a special edition magazine put out by WAI highlighting essays by scholarship recipients to celebrate giving out $10,000,000 in scholarships over the last 27 years. We are honored to know these amazing women and support them along their aviation journey in memory of our Val. It’s just one way that Val’s amazing legacy can live on. It’s what keeps us raising money for these scholarships so that women can soar!

I also had the privilege of presenting Val’s story during one of the breakout sessions and it was such a personal victory for me. I shared the story of the “wings for val” and used wings as a metaphor to give examples from Val’s life about how we all can find and use our own wings in life and approach any obstacle with an “adapt and overcome” mentality. We had a film team with us for an entire day, courtesy of our amazing friends at Mission BBQ, and we will be putting together some video snippets to share in the coming weeks.

And of course we enjoyed touring Nashville, sipping some fine Tennesee whiskey, eating amazing southern food, and splurging on some cowboy boots!!!!

So.. a third year has now passed and while I still miss my sister every single day, I am owning her story and legacy as part of my own and learning to be more brave and to love myself through the process (words from the great Brene Brown). I am channeling her words “adapt and overcome” almost everyday and am so thankful for the opportunities I have to continue sharing her story and inspiring the next generation of female leaders.





W4V Finishes First at Two Top 100K Challenge

From Pat Cappelaere who represented the Wings for Val Foundation at the 100K Vertical Challenge skiing fundraising event for Two Top Adaptive Sports Foundation on Monday Feb 29th at WhiteTail Resort, PA.

7:30AM Security brief and here we go to the slopes.  Team LT Valerie Cappelaere Delaney had 5 starters Gary Cox, Russ Coleman, Andrea Phipps, Lisa Dargos and myself.  We had some major wind, a little rain and finally some sun.  Conditions were far from ideal but still ten times better from last year with zero visibility and freezing rain.
Rules were changed this year and we could all go simultaneously to ski our collective 100,000 vertical feet goal.  This was certainly more fun.  We lost half the crew before we could even take a group picture at the top of the mountain… too much anxiety, I guess 🙂
It was great to see so many warriors and disabled skiers compete with us this year.  What an inspiration!
The team was outstanding.  We finished first place, skiing a collective 100,000 vertical feet in less than 3 hours.
We were also the top fund raiser with $12,300 (tally not complete so you can still donate).
This was really awesome.  The total raised for the event is $61,853 so the team raised about 20% of the money with the support of the Wing For Val Foundation.  That’s two years in a row!  This year was a challenge due to such a short season .
Last year, the Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation provided 850 lessons to disabled athletes during the winter and summer.  Over 575 of these lessons were to disabled veterans and family members.  This year, more than 10 gold star family members were also included thanks to W4V.  Next year, we will also like to see many service dogs from the Warrior Canine Connection.
Many thanks to Mission BBQ for the outstanding dinner they provided to the teams and the many volunteers that came to help. Thank you to the sponsors, West Pharma, Volvo Construction Equipment and Leidos for sponsoring the event and participating as teams.
Thank you to the Travis Manion Foundation for their support as well.
#wingsforval #adaptandovercome #twotopadaptive #travismanionfoundation #warriorcanineconnection
Notice the head bands! We wore them all day long.

Gold Stars Serving on the Slopes

On Friday, the Wings for Val Foundation organized a service day on the slopes for Gold Star family members from the Navy’s District of Washington Gold Star Program. We have had a longstanding relationship with Two Top Adaptive Sports Foundation, an organization that provides adaptive skiing and snowboarding programs for disabled individuals and wounded veterans at Whitetail Ski Resort. Bill & Stacey from Two Top helped us host an incredibly successful event that connected 12 Gold Star family members with about 15 wounded warriors from Walter Reed Medical Center. Everyone had a great time out on the slopes and enjoying a big group lunch.


This was also Private Delaney’s (our new adopted dog from Warrior Canine Connection) first official work day. Delaney enjoyed the crowd and was a big hit at Whitetail with all the warriors and the children.

The smiles at the end of the day were an indication of the event’s success — participants learned how to ski and/or how to help wounded veterans how to ski, and fellow Gold Star family members connected with one another through acts of service and in memory of their fallen family members. We had many people sign up to continue volunteering with Two Top at Whitetail and we encourage everyone to consider donating to our Wings for Val team for the upcoming fundraiser event at the end of February in support of Two Top’s mission.

Thank you to everyone who made this event possible and to Amy Looney from the Travis Manion Foundation for supporting the event as well. We loved this opportunity to apply Val’s motto of “ADAPT AND OVERCOME!”


2015 in review


2015 was an exciting launch year for the Wings for Val Foundation. It all started last January, when we reorganized and relaunched the website to showcase all the amazing stories about and tributes to our faithful, fearless Val since her passing on 3/11/13. This propelled our family into the process of incorporating as an official 501(c)3 non-profit to use Val’s story as a way to inspire future generations of female leaders, and we haven’t looked back since. Here are a few of our top highlights from 2015:

  • Val’s parents went on a mission trip to Guatemala with the Travis Manion Foundation at the end of January with other gold star family members to build a house for a very poor family in honor of their fallen loved ones. Read a reflection on or watch this video interview about their journey and how Val’s legacy now lives on in a remote village in Guatemala.
  • On February 9th, Val’s dad led an “Adapt and Overcome” team participating in the 100K Vertical Challenge fundraising event at Whitetail Ski Resort for the Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation. Our team raised over $20,0000 to go towards helping wounded veterans and families. We also awarded the first “Service Wings for Val” to Executive Director, Bill Dietrich, for all his work helping wounded veterans adapt to and overcome their physical limitations. We look forward to another big year supporting this great organization– pledge your support here!
  • In March, we were thrilled to have awarded the second LT Valerie Cappelaere Delaney Memorial Scholarship to Ashley Taylor from McCall, Idaho in person at the Women in Aviation, International conference in Dallas. We also awarded last year’s recipient, Chelsea, with a special Wings for Val medal for recently earning her helicopter pilot’s license. We are building an amazing network of female aviators who embody Val’s characteristics. Read blog post here. In March 2016, we will be awarding the third recipient in Nashville, and I will be speaking at the conference, as well! 
  • March 11, 2015 marked the 2nd  year anniversary of Val’s passing.. hard to believe. We had some amazing tributes shared that day, including: Val’s dad “Poppies will grow” blog, my story of Val’s motto “Adapt and Overcome”, and Mission BBQ launching their first “Stories of Service” video series about Val. Mission BBQ is a rapidly growing chain with amazing food and an even more amazing mission to honor our nation’s servicewomen and men; they are dear friends of our family and we have many of Val’s memorabilia hung on the walls of their restaurants throughout MD.
  • We connected with Warrior Canine Connection, an incredible organization that trains service dogs and pairs them with wounded veterans.  We were honored that they named the only girl in a new litter of black labs, Delaney, after our Val…. AND, several months later after finding out that Delaney has a health defect that will not allow her to complete her service training to be paired with a wounded vet, Val’s parents decided to adopt her!! This will be official in January and more pictures/details to come!
  • In October, at the Navy Women’s Lacrosse alumni night, Val’s parents gave the first ever Wings for Val award to a current player who exhibits similar team spirit and hustle as Val did (#6, Class of ’09). Senior Molly McNamara received this honor and her name was etched into a custom plaque that will hang proudly and accumulate with a new name each year.
  • Val’s dad became trained as an ambassador for the Travis Manion Foundation‘s “Character Does Matter” (CDM) program, which inspires young adults to live with character and adopt the “If Not Me, Then Who…” ethos into their daily lives. He completed several presentations to share a message of courage, integrity, leadership, and service with young adults in the area. We are working to adapt this presentation to include several stories of female fallen heroes to be able to especially focus on inspiring young women… and we also have started working on developing personalized challenge coins that will be used and tracked to “honor the fallen by challenging the living.”
  • WordPress also did a cool year-end report of our action on the blog.. apparently we had over 16,000 views on our blog/website this year! Click here to see the complete report. Facebook is going strong with nearly 735 likes… can we get to 1,300+ this year?! We will also be redesigning our website and logo/branding, so look out for that soon.

These are just a few of the highlights from our 2015 launch year, and I’m extremely humbled, amazed and thankful reflecting  back on all that we’ve done this past year to continue honoring Val’s legacy. We have had incredible support to help us get started with these efforts and we are so grateful!! Please consider continued contributions by visiting our website here: We have a lot of exciting things in store for 2016 and we can’t do it without your support!

Many blessing for a faithful, fearless 2016!

Character Does Matter @ St. John’s Episcopal Church 10.18.15

IMG_3510On Sunday 10/18, Pat had the opportunity to share Val’s story and messages of character with 25+ young adults at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, MD. Pat is a trained ambassador for the Travis Manion Foundation‘s “Character Does Matter” (CDM) program, which inspires young adults to live with character and adopt the “If Not Me, Then Who…” ethos into their daily lives. Veterans and families of the fallen deliver presentations that share a message of courage, integrity, leadership, and service with young adults (more than 30,000 per year).

According to Pat, “this was a great group to talk to and share some powerful stories.  In addition of Travis and Brendan’s stories, I used Val’s story as well as USMC Maj Megan McClung’s story that her mother shared with us while we were in the Whidbey Island, WA area a few weeks ago. Meg’s and Val’s smiles were reflected throughout the room and hopefully touched many hearts. Thank you TMF for this opportunity to inspire the next generation of young leaders and carry in their own hearts some of our children’s spirits.  May they continue the missions they started.”


We are working with TMF to get more of our W4V ambassadors trained in giving CDM presentations, while also adapting the presentation to include several stories of female fallen heroes to be able to especially focus on inspiring young women. Can’t wait to see how this grows!