Wilson is a stout black lab who lumbers more than he walks. He is trained to bark only if his wounded warrior Army Captain Pat Horan (ret.) begins to show signs of an impending seizure. Wilson also helps Pat stay on course, literally, as he is weaker on one side and tends to walk a bit to one side.
“He’s been with us for two and a half years,” says Horan whose wife/caregiver, Patty, a fresh-faced blond admits she loves to rough-house with Wilson. Patty works for 100 Entrepreneurs Foundation, Inc., a non-profit created to provide seriously wounded service members, veterans and their families with information and ideas for creating their own businesses or exploring civilian jobs after they leave the hospital.
Pat, Patty and Wilson joined fellow wounded warriors, caregivers and Bob Woodruff Foundation staff today at the 9/11 Memorial.
“The 9/11 Memorial is part of so many of the service members’ stories,” says Sara Lafe, the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s Director of Charitable Investments. “It’s emotional to be here.”
The morning visit capped off several days of activities including a visit to the New York Google campus, VIP dinners, and for the caregivers – an opportunity to be pampered and prepped for their red carpet appearance at Stand Up for Heroes.
“You thought of my wife too,” said one wounded warrior who said that far too many events and programs are designed without the caregiver in mind.
“We really are focusing on the family members this year,” says Lafe.
The star-studded evening, held at Madison Square Garden, includes performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart and Jerry Seinfeld.
But what’s far more important than the jokes or the music is the idea that tonight is about putting differences aside and “getting behind the Bob Woodruff Foundation,” says Anne Marie Dougherty, the foundation’s executive director.
The sponsors – Veterans on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and Citi, says Dougherty have been generous and forthcoming with not only their financial backing but also the idea behind the foundation.
In fact when a service member ran into a flight conflict, Bob and Lee Woodruff reached out to several contacts – one of whom immediately offered his private aircraft to fly the wounded warrior and his caregiver to New York.
“It’s a single story from this week that captures the idea of Veteran’s Week,” says Dougherty.
This evening’s event is expected to raise a significant amount – with the money going towards programs that support the thousands of service members and their families who have stood up through more than 12 years of war.
The financial reward this evening will leave an impact, says Dougherty, but “it’s really about our private and corporate friends who stand together regardless of their differences and support the Bob Woodruff Foundation.”