W4V Navy Women’s Lacrosse Award

On Friday October 2nd at the Navy Women’s Lacrosse alumni night, Pat & Doreen gave the first ever Wings for Val award to a current player who exhibits similar team spirit and hustle as Val did. Val (Class of 2009) 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 was chosen by her coaches to receive this award in honor of Val. Her name was etched into a custom plaque that will hang proudly and accumulate with a new name each year.

Val’s dad, Pat, expands on the purpose of the award:

The intent of the Wings For Val foundation is to inspire the next generation of young women leaders. The path to successful leadership can be fairly different between men and women. But in both cases, it does rely on strong personal character. This is something that needs time to develop. It takes perseverance, sometimes mostly failures and successes.  You do not learn this in a book or in a classroom but you can be inspired by examples. Examples do not need to be Captain of a team but they do need to show that they care about their teammates, help the ones that may need encouragement and sometimes a gentle push. They need to show perseverance and fearlessness on the field. They also need to show physical courage to go through daily practices. They know that it is not about them but about something much bigger than themselves. This is our hope for that award: Finding that kind of person. Our challenge is that we can only pick one and there are so many good examples on this team. Coach Cindy Timchal, you also deserve some credit for developing such a fine group of young ladies. They are truly the best we have and this is not just about Lacrosse. 

For those who don’t know, Molly has chosen “Submarines”.  This is not a small decision to make to be one of the first female officers in that line of duty.  Molly, you will be a great leader for the upcoming class of enlisted female selectees.  The deep sea is now your limit.  God Bless.

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Kick-Off Weekend Recap!

The Wings for Val Foundation has officially launched with a resoundingly successful series of kick-off events last weekend, raising nearly $10,000 towards our mission of honoring Val’s legacy by inspiring the next generation of female leaders.

On Saturday – over 150 people gathered at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery to celebrate the launch of our Foundation and to hear from several amazing keynote speakers. In attendance, we had many close friends and family, active duty and retired military personnel, including 5 of our advisory board members, several Gold Star family members, and people of all ages and walks of life who had been touched by Val’s story.

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National anthem by three of Val’s closest friends/our advisory board members

For me, it was an honor to emcee the event and to share Val’s story and how our family has taken Val’s motto of “ADAPT AND OVERCOME” to heart by rising above the tragedy of her death and doing something positive in her honor. I was humbled by the surreal feeling throughout the whole evening that, while this was something I never imagined I would be doing, it was exactly what I was meant to be doing.

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After my introduction, we heard from two very special representatives from the Travis Manion Foundation (TMF) who shared how their own personal stories of loss have also translated into incredible acts of service and leadership. Amy Looney is the Director of Survivor Services for TMF and lost her husband, LT (Seal) Brendan Looney in 2010 in Afghanistan. Amber Baum is a TMF ambassador who lost her husband, Army Sgt. Ryan Baum in Iraq in 2007 when she was 9 months pregnant with her daughter Leia, who also joined us. In recognition for all their work towards “honoring the fallen by challenging the living”, we awarded them with specially designed honorary wings designed by my dad using a 3D printing service. We can’t wait to continue working closely with TMF in the future.

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We then heard from Captain Heidi Fleming, ’89 USNA grad and naval flight officer, who currently serves as the first female Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD. A few connections to PAX River — Not only was my great grandfather the Commanding Officer at the nearby Naval torpedo testing facility in Piney Point during WWII (my family still has a beach house in Piney Point), but Val did an internship at PAX River in 2008, where she took her very first ride in a Navy jet. We were so excited to have Captain Fleming join us to represent PAX River and to share some of her personal journey and leadership lessons learned along the way. With her engaging and natural speaking abilities, she expressed her passion for female mentorship and acknowledged how she stands on the shoulders of those who came before her. To our surprise, she closed her talk by presenting us with a pair of her wings that she added to the Wings for Val collection and guestbook at the exhibit.

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We also heard from another fearless female leader with incredible moral courage, Kimberley Motley. An American lawyer who does a lot of work internationally, Kimberely Motely is considered one of the most effective defense attorneys operating in Afghanistan. She is now helping the first female Afghani military pilot CAPT Niloofar Rahmani against Taliban threats to her life and her family’s life. We were honored and amazed that she shared some stories of her work with us (before getting back on a plane to Afghanistan that same night!) and to hear that Capt. Rahmani is currently in the United States continuing to pursue her dream of aviation.

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Last but not least, we had a fury friend make her debut appearance .. and she totally stole the show! Delaney is a service dog named after our Val by Warrior Canine Connection, an organization in Brookville, MD that enlists recovering Warriors in a therapeutic mission of learning to train service dogs for their fellow Veterans. Rick Yount, CEO, was there with Delaney to tell everyone about his work and let Delaney receive lots of love and attention.

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After the program, we had a wonderful reception in the main exhibit gallery where Mission BBQ catered a delicious buffet and people had the opportunity to network, donate, and purchase our newly designed “swag” (thanks to amazing design work by my cousin in law, Courtney Spencer). Here are a few more pictures:

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All the speakers after the program

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Our swag

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Amy, Leia, and Amber showing off our t-shirts in front of the Wings for Val exhibit.

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Gold Star Families

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Erin Rawlick (Val’s friend/advisory board member) with Delaney and Commander Jon Stevenson (PAX River) and his two daughters.

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USNA Class of 2009

 

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Sean’s family

After a good night’s sleep on Saturday, we were all rested up for another big day on Sunday. We participated in TMF’s Annapolis 9/11 Heroes Run and had 65 people on our Wings for Val team – wow! It was a gorgeous and breezy fall day – perfect for running/walking the 5k 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 nearly the entire Navy Women’s Lacrosse team participate on our team in their fellow fallen teammate’s memory, all while repping our cool headbands. (Even several teammates/alumni out on the West Coast also ran in Val’s memory that day!) Before and after the race, we had the opportunity to talk to so many Navy midshipmen and other community members to share Val’s story and goals of our Foundation. We were so encouraged with everyone’s sincere interest and positive response that we left feeling incredibly motivated to continue doing what we’re doing, recognizing this is just the beginning!

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We can’t thank each and every single one of you enough for your continued support and encouragement. Val’s spirit shines more brightly than ever and we hope that many more women will be inspired by her story and strive to spread their own wings and soar!

The “Adapt and Overcome Adventure”

Submitted by LT Caitlin Hill, Val’s friend and W4V Advisory Board Member:

I met Val during a sports period over plebe summer at the Naval Academy…You know those moments when you meet someone who is going to be an immediate impact on your life, but it comes at you with a slap to the face? That was Valerie’s introduction into my life. You see, two other teammates and I had this brilliant idea that we could sneak away and leave early, but Val caught us. Oops! Let’s just say that the three of us quickly learned some valuable plebe lessons (mostly, never get caught). All three of us were still nervous to start lacrosse with her when she returned from a Fall semester abroad. That worry quickly left. We became instant friends with Val and she actually became my N* for the Spring season (the “Big” to my “Little”). I admired her for so many reasons and counted on her mentorship. Val always had this unwavering faith in people, her friends, our team, and in me. Valerie inspired me in so many ways and her light continues to guide me every day. Through the ups and downs of life and sisterhood, Val’s motto of “Adapt and Overcome” is always the reminder that no matter what the challenge, I will rise higher.

It is this same light that has kept me involved with the Wings for Val Foundation and especially this blog. It’s how I came to read what Allison, Val’s sister, had to say about their trip to Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon. At the time I was deployed on the USS Carl Vinson but forwarded the article to my sister because I liked the message it had. Both Kelsey and I have wanted to travel for years but neither of us put much effort into it. There was always school. Or work. Or some other commitment. But after reading Allison’s post, Kelsey and I began to seriously plan, together, for the first time.

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Ireland has always been a dream vacation for both of us, but it was a distant thought that was planned individually and only as a potential trip in the future. Never did I think that I would be able to go at this point in my military career, let alone, with my sister. You see, as fraternal twins, the more Kelsey and I grew up the more different we became – maybe it was because we were twins and wanted to be seen as individuals – but it seemed when one of us went right the other went left. In all seriousness, even I am right handed and she is left handed. Kelsey was the quiet, reader and theater type, while I was the loud, outgoing and athletic side. Our interests rarely aligned. However, on those rare occasions they did we always had a great time together, even despite the tiffs along the way. But distance and our busy lives meant that those rare occasions stayed very rare.

It wasn’t that we didn’t want to spend time together; life simply kept getting in the way. Reading Allison’s blog changed how I thought about it. We don’t have time, we make time. It became important to us that we make the time to take the trip. It wasn’t easy – we changed destinations and dates multiple times. It came as no surprise that when we finally committed to going to Ireland and booked our tickets, it was dubbed the “Adapt and Overcome Adventure.” I like to think it was Valerie’s spirit shining through into both our hearts as we planned our first vacation together!
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(LT Caitlin “TAG” Mandrin Hill)
(Navy Women’s Lacrosse #15 Retired)

More updates on their adventure to come! 

10-Year Prep School Reunion Tribute

As some of you may or may not know, Val didn’t get into the Naval Academy right away. But being the hard-headed and determined bull she was, that didn’t stop her. After graduating high school, Val attended Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) in Massachusetts for a year of prep school in 2005. Her fellow classmate, also a USNA grad, Allie Burns, attended the 10-year reunion event on June 6 and had the opportunity to pay a tribute to Val to all those present.

According to Allie, “The memorial service was beautiful.  It was held at sunset on the fields where Val played sports.  We gathered in a circle as a symbol of unity. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. Val was such an incredible, compassionate young woman.  It was an honor to speak on her behalf.”

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As Allie recounted to the group, while Val wasn’t thrilled about completing a 5th year of high school, NMH became the foundation of her success at the Naval Academy. She competed in three sports (soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse), took several advanced placement classes, participated in the concert choir and select women’s ensemble, and developed lasting friendships, particularly with the five other “Navy Girls” on campus.

In her tribute speech (which you can read in full here), Allie shares special memories of Val from her time at NMH and their subsequent friendship through Navy and into flight school. She sums it up exquisitely in the last paragraph:

“As we honor LT Val Cappeleare Delany today, I want you to remember that she was not just a beautiful, intelligent, athletic young lady with the voice of an angel. Valerie was a wife, daughter, sister, and friend. She was warm, caring, and full of zest. Valerie was an American hero, who wore wings of gold on her chest as a reflection of her own heart of gold, who made the ultimate sacrifice. Fair winds and following seas, thank you for taking the first watch.”

Thank you, Allie, for expressing these words so thoughtfully and for carrying on Val’s inspiration in your continued life and career. If anyone has any memories they’d like to share from NMH, please comment below or engage with us on Facebook.

Memorial Day Musings

Without the ability to form full flowing paragraphs this Friday afternoon, I instead offer a list of simple Memorial Day musings in honor of the service and sacrifice of all America’s military members, especially my sister, LT Valerie Cappelaere Delaney (5/14/86-3/11/13).

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  • I feel eternally grateful for my fearless sister who pursued her dreams of becoming a pilot in service to this country and provided inspiration and mentorship to me and countless others.
  • I will never forget her bright smile, soft hands, big mouth, feisty spirit, compassionate soul, unrelenting work ethic, unquestionable integrity, and strong faith.
  • I thank her for the gift and the seed of this Foundation, the platform through which we can share her incredible story in hopes of inspiring other young women to live fully and fearlessly as she did.
  • I feel strangely excited to get know to Val on a deeper level now in her death through building this Foundation and telling the stories of the impact she had on her friends and loved ones. I wonder how I can ever put into words what, specifically, it was about Val – her upbringing? her challenges? her attitude? her faith? – that allowed her to achieve what she did in her short life.
  • I feel blessed with a strong family that instilled in me values of patriotism and service from a young age, with annual visits to Arlington National Cemetery to pay respects to several of my relatives who served. I feel even more blessed now that we’ve grown closer through our hardships and through the opportunity to work together on this Foundation.
  • I realize that for Gold Star families, every single day is Memorial Day, for better or for worse; yet I also feel proud that on this national holiday, the whole country also acknowledges this reality and remembers heroes like Val.
  • I admire organizations like the Travis Manion Foundation, the American Fallen Solider’s Project (AFSP) and so many others, who make it their mission to honor and serve those who serve our country through wonderfully innovative programs and services. This time last year, we were honored to be presented with Val’s portrait (pictured above) from Phil Taylor of the AFSP and it hangs proudly on our walls and in our hearts. Mission BBQ also created an incredible tribute video about Val if you haven’t seen it already.
  • I congratulate the four veterans of Mission Memorial Day who are going on a mountain climbing expedition, carrying with them flags with names of those lost in service to this nation (including Val’s name) in hopes to restoring meaning back to Memorial day.
  • I appreciate President Obama’s recent proclamation that Memorial Day is a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I urge everyone to unite in prayer on 11:00am on Monday 5/25/15 and to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3pm local time.
  • I ask for prayers and positive thoughts for my family as we build this Foundation – please like us on Facebook page and share it among your networks! We are hoping for an official Fall kick-off event, so keep an eye out for more information and ways to donate and get involved.

What are your Memorial Day musings? How will you be celebrating this weekend by honoring the true meaning of this holiday and remembering those we’ve lost in military service?

– Allison Righter, President, Wings for Val Foundation

 

To Adapt and Overcome, One Must First Surrender

It is March 2009 and I am about to embark on a 6.8 mile hike all the way down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with my big sister, Val. We planned this as part of a special sister-bonding spring break trip to Arizona during her senior year at the Naval Academy and my junior year at Johns Hopkins. After visiting our cousin Penn in Tucson  for a couple days, we were ready for our grand adventure down the Grand Canyon to stay overnight at the famous Phantom Ranch and then hike all the way back up the next day. This is not your typical beach Spring Break trip most college students take; not with Val.

As we’re about to begin our descent we go through our final checks. Hiking shoes? Check. Camera? Check. Layers of clothing for unpredictable changes in weather? Check. Snacks? Check. CamelBaks full of water? Hang on. Mine isn’t working. Even though the sac is filled with water, I can’t get any to come out through the straw. I’m flustered and frustrated, trying to do something to fix it. Val’s starting to get impatient and her Taurus horns are coming out (as our Papa would say). She blurts out something like, “You have the water, you don’t need the straw to work. Adapt and overcome, Alli. Let’s go.” I whine a little bit more, we bicker a little bit more, and then we forget about it and start our trek.

After about three and a half hours of unbelievable scenery and downhill hiking, we made it to the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Wow. We enjoyed the most amazing beef stew and cornbread at the Phantom Ranch, where we dined with other fellow hikers from all over, sent out postcards via “mule mail”, and slept overnight in a cabin of bunk beds, just like our old camp days.

Let’s just say I never really knew I had calf muscles until I woke up the next morning with the back of my legs burning from all the downhill hiking. Val, having gone through plenty of Navy physical training by this point, didn’t seem to mind and basically just told me to suck it up. So we took off bright and early to begin the 9.8 mi hike back up the slightly longer trail with more shade and rest stops, thank goodness. I struggled. Val encouraged me to keep going, and kept saying this new “Adapt and Overcome” motto of hers probably five more times over the next eight hours as we were trying to make our way back up. There were a few times I actually threatened to push her off the trail back down into the Canyon if she didn’t stop saying it. I can be annoying and whiney, and Val can be tough and bossy, especially to one another, in a loving sisterly way. Needless to say, I didn’t push Val off the cliff and we made it to the back up to the top in one piece. Even with our few tiffs along the way, we accomplished an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list-worthy feat… and we did it together. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own, and there is no one else I would have wanted to do it with.

Fast forward six years and I am now writing this story, reflecting back on these memories as we approach the two year anniversary of Val’s passing. After graduating from the Naval Academy, pursuing her dream to become a Naval Aviator, marrying the man of her dreams (also a Navy pilot), and building the home of her dreams in Washington State – all by the age of 26 –  God called her up to fulfill a higher heavenly mission and left all of us back on earth devastated, questioning, missing her.

Two years later I am still devastated, questioning and missing her, but I am also rebuilding and learning to honor her life by living mine to the fullest. Among so many other memories, I hold closely to my heart the memories of our trip together to the Grand Canyon. It was on that trip that we bonded for the first time in a deep, meaningful, adult sort of way as I was just approaching my 21st birthday and she was getting ready to begin her military career post-Academy. We were always close growing up, but during this precious one-on-one time we talked about big girl life stuff – family, school, boyfriends, marriage, religion – that had such a profound effect on my very impressionable  self.

Her words “Adapt and Overcome” that she kept saying to me definitely stuck and became not only an inside joke between us and our family, but also a true motto we all embraced. We think she picked it up during her previous summer’s “Leatherneck” training program with the Marines, who use “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome” as an unofficial slogan made popular by Clint Eastwood’s movie, Heartbreak Ridge.  Regardless of where she learned it or why she decided to repeatedly blurt it out to me in the Grand Canyon, all I know is that it stuck… so much that in a book put together at my bridal luncheon with thoughtful marriage advice from my bridesmaids and close family and friends, Val simply wrote “Alli, Adapt and Overcome. Love, Val”

I believe in these words. I believe that we, as humans, can overcome obstacles – whether they be big or small or in the form of fear, tragedy, shame, injury, trauma, guilt, loss, etc. And I believe in order to overcome our challenges, we must learn to be flexible, resourceful, creative, persistent and quick to make the necessary adjustments. Everywhere you look there are ordinary and extraordinary stories of humans adapting and overcoming, whether out of necessity to survive or out of a conscious choice to thrive. This isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that I’ve been thinking about quite a lot since being presented with the devastation of Val’s death, one of the hardest struggles I’ve ever faced. What I’ve realized is that in order to truly “adapt and overcome” one must first make the conscious decision to surrender.

This may seem counter intuitive to most people, especially military personnel, who are taught never to surrender. During the same scene in Heartbreak Ridge, Marine Gunnery Sargent Highway (Clint Eastwood) teaches his deadbeat recon platoon to recite, “Surrender is not in our creed.” While I agree that we don’t want our troops be taught to roll over and waive the white flag to our enemies, I also think that there is a deeper, more powerful meaning of this word that we can all take to heart. It relates more to the internal battles we each fight and our willingness to relinquish the desire to be fully in control. As hard as some of us may desperately try, we are never fully in control and we don’t always have the answers… Bad things happen; The weather changes; Plans shift; Our loved ones die too soon. Instead of continuing to fight ourselves and others over what we cannot change, what if we were to just learn to accept and to surrender our false sense of control? Faith teaches us this exact principle – that we must place our trust into God or a higher power in order to experience true freedom and salvation. This is the act and the art of surrendering – our control, our fears, our worries, our anxieties – to something larger than ourselves. And we first have to make the conscious choice to let go in order to free ourselves from our inner demons, to make a change, to adapt, to solve problems, to overcome hurdles, to achieve our goals, and to live out our unique God-given purposes. Simply put, to adapt and overcome, one must first surrender. This realization and my renewed journey of faith are Val’s gift to me, and I hope, to all of us.

In January 2014, my husband’s family started what has become a new tradition of everyone choosing one word as a theme for the coming year, as opposed to resolutions, which are often quickly abandoned. I chose the word “surrender” for all the reasons above and to help guide me through the chaos and life transitions that occurred in the months following Val’s passing. During this time, I have learned to let go of the railing I clung to so hard as a child and to throw my hands up proudly in the air so that I can fully experience this roller coaster of life, wherever it takes me. It’s terrifying at times, but I’m mustering up more courage everyday and drawing on Val’s exemplary strength and perseverance to fulfill my own life’s mission while carrying hers forward… sans peur et sans reproche.

What did I choose as my word for 2015, you ask? Express. Here’s to many more opportunities to be bold, to share stories, to convey feelings, to reflect, to grow, and to honor an incredible life by living ours to the fullest.

Allison Righter 3.11.13

Poppies will grow

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Poppies and Butterflies, original artwork by Melissa Torres, San Antonio, TX

Two years ago, three lives were recalled in one instant and three warriors were promoted to Warriors of the Light and tasked to carry a higher mission.

Today we remember Lt. Valerie Cappelaere Delaney as well as Lt. Cmdr. Alan Patterson and Lt. j.g. William McIlvaine III. Three of our brightest, the very best that we could ever made, I say we have not lost those lights.

 No, they have not left us. We cannot touch them nor see them but yet, they are around us.

 They are trying to transform us, open our hearts, see the light. They want us to be the light. They leave us little signs and lead us to new places. They help us meet angels and other healers so that one day, we may become ourselves angels or healers. And that’s when we become the light.

This has been a hard road over the last two years. Indeed, it is a tough battle to fight but we have help… and help from the very best.

Very soon, in that Spokane field, poppies will grow and butterflies will come. When we see the poppies and the butterflies, let’s remember that they carry a special message. Open your heart and listen. Soon we will become the light and then, finally, re-unite.

By Pat Cappelaere, Val’s father

Women in Aviation International Conference 2015

I (Val’s Mom, Doreen) just returned from four days in Dallas, Texas, where I attended the 26th annual WAI Conference with my good friend, Cecelia “Ceecee” Paizs. This conference has grown significantly from its early days and had over 4,000 people attending, exhibiting, volunteering and presenting this year.  We were extremely happy to welcome back Chelsea Atwater, from Flagstaff, Arizona and to meet for the first time, Ashley Taylor, from McCall, Idaho.  Chelsea was last year’s winner of the LT Valerie Cappelaere Delaney Memorial Scholarship and we selected Ashley to win the scholarship this year.  Ashley’s on the left and Chelsea is on the right in both photos below.

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We all had fun hanging out at the many exhibits.  Chelsea really had fun at the Marine Corps booth where she earned a tee shirt that says “Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body” by completing NINE full pull ups.  The Marines there were impressed!

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We met up with one of Val’s old pilot friends, Candi Wilson, from Whidbey Island NAS and attended a flight suit social with many female military aviators.  The theme of women helping other women resonated throughout the conference.

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We were blessed and honored with a visit from Lisa and Phil Taylor of The American Fallen Soldiers Project, which is also based in Dallas.  Phil is the talented artist who painted Val’s portrait.  Phil surprised Ashley and Chelsea by announcing that his foundation would be sending them each $1,000.00 to supplement their scholarships!

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Finally, Ceecee and I presented the 2015 LT Valerie Cappelaere Delaney Memorial Scholarship, worth $2,000.00 to Ashley Taylor at the Saturday morning general session of the conference in front of over 1,000 people! Ashley is currently working for the U.S. Forest Service as a Smoke Jumper, an elite fire fighter.  She will use the funds to continue her flight lessons to become a pilot of the planes out of which she has been jumping. Ceecee and I also acknowledged Chelsea’s accomplishments of earning her helicopter pilot’s license and instrument rating since last year by awarding her a Wings for Val gold medal that my husband, Patrice, the engineer designed online using 3D printing.  Chelsea is a Grand Canyon river guide and soon will be giving helicopter tours of the canyon.

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Valerie was with us in spirit throughout the conference.  She was certainly talked about, honored, celebrated, toasted and remembered many times during the four days!  Her legacy will live on through Chelsea and Ashley as they become pilots with Val’s same characteristics of fearlessness, courage and service.

Building a House in Guatemala in Honor of Val

Val’s Mom, Doreen, shares her reflections from a recent mission trip in honor of Val: 

At the end of January, Patrice and I took a trip to Guatemala sponsored by the Travis Manion Foundation.  Working there through Casas Por Cristo and with Shane’s Challenge, our group of 25 volunteers built a house for a very poor family in honor of our fallen loved ones.

building site for the house

building site for the house

framing the house

framing the house

We were physically challenged during the week working at 6000 feet altitude and hiking down and back up a mile from the work site each day.  Our group consisted of parents, siblings, and spouses of fallen military heroes.  It was great being with others who understand.

getting to know the children there

getting to know the children there

other families in the same area

some of the women and children

dedicating the house to the family who will live in it

dedicating the house to the family for whom it was built

It was very emotional for the family to receive such a generous gift and for us to give them photos of our loved ones to hang on their walls.  The Travis Manion Foundation provided a brass plaque in loving memory of all eight of our heroes.  Their legacy lives on in a remote village in Guatemala.

the plaque above the door

the plaque above the door

We also spent time visiting with children from the Morning Glory Christian Academy. We brought musical instruments to donate so that the children could have an opportunity to learn the beauty of music. During a celebratory festival, this little girl, Allison (also the name of my youngest daughter) latched onto me. We are hoping to sponsor her throughout her schooling at Morning Glory.

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A little girl, Allison, who clung to us

I think that all of us would agree that we got much more than we gave.

View more pictures from Pat and Doreen or from the Travis Manion Foundation

Adapt and Overcome at TwoTop

Val was the first one to push hard and tell us to “Adapt and Overcome”.  This motto is now used at TwoTop Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation, a nonprofit based at Whitetail Ski Resort in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. (Follow us on Facebook). The goal at TwoTop is to help wounded veterans and people with disabilities overcome their physical limitations and fears.  I (Valerie’s father) am an avid skier and have been a volunteer adaptive ski instructor with TwoTop for the last couple years.

On Monday, February 9, 2015 skiers and snowboarders will attempt to ski 100,000 vertical feet in a single day at Whitetail to support disabled athletes who want to learn snow sports.  Participants of this 100K Vertical Challenge event will take on the challenge by raising funds to meet the 100,000 vertical feet goal.

I have created a team to participate in honor of Valerie and am planning on raising $20,000. Please consider donating or sponsoring our team. You can also donate your time or a Gift of Snow ($120 for one warrior to spend one day at Whitetail). Its a very incredible organization and well-worth the investment. We will be posting updates of the event in February!