CMG Foundation stepped up its mission in support of veterans on May 10th, traveling to the tight-knit community of Lancaster in the high desert of Antelope Valley, California. The team of volunteers from CMG Foundation included Kim Callas, Executive Vice President of CMG Financial, Marko Krosnjar, Business Development Director for the Foundation and Erika Eckhardt, the Foundation’s Marketing Chairperson.
The endeavor was to assist our partner, the Gary Sinise Foundation, and students from Lancaster Highschool in their fundraising effort for Army Specialist (RET) Jerral Hancock, single father of two and hometown hero to many. Jerral was severely wounded while on patrol in Iraq in 2007, sustaining burns to 30% of his body, losing his left arm and suffering shrapnel to his spinal cord which left him paralyzed from the chest down… Specialist Hancock had just turned 21 the day his tank rolled over an EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator).
“Last year we began a partnership in support of the Gary Sinise Foundation as a result of researching the work and commitment Gary and his foundation put forth on behalf of our nation’s most deserving heroes… our most severely wounded veterans.” remarked Chris George, Foundation President and CEO of CMG Financial. “To that end, we put great effort into our own fundraiser each year as a kick-off to the mortgage banking industry’s CMBA Western Secondary Market Conference in July, and throughout the year in related volunteer and fundraising activities”.
The culmination of this particular fundraising weekend has been a year-long mission by a special group of Antelope Valley students to raise funds on behalf of SPC Jerral Hancock and his children. Having met SPC Hancock at a Pride Of The Nation Armed Forces Day event in June of 2013, students from Ms. Jaime Goodreau’s history class committed themselves to building Jerral a handicap accessible home where he could better manage his needs and those of his 2 young children. The 501c3 non-profit organization Operation All The way Home (OATH) was conceived and the group began a one-year “tour of duty” to raise funds to erect a Smarthome in order to honor the sacrifices made by a hometown hero.
“In keeping with our own commitment to heroes like Jerral, we made certain we had a group of volunteers at the fundraiser to assist GSF in any way possible. The team from CMG Foundation were counted on to help greet and usher over 3,500 attendees”, said Chris.
For those unfamiliar with weather patterns of the high desert, frigid evenings linger well into early May. Add to that winds of 50+mph and you have one chill-fest of a spring evening. But conditions could not dampen the enthusiasm of the CMG Foundation volunteers or of those attending the sold out event. More than 3,500 folks, nearly a quarter of them veterans themselves, turned out for Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band in support of the OATH program’s year-long goal to raise $500,000 towards Jerral Hancock’s Smarthome.
The evening was a memorable success. “It was a compelling tribute to a community’s compassion for one of their own, who was counted on to potentially face great sacrifice, and did so in the protection of our freedoms” reflected the team from CMG Foundation. All told, the evening brought in the neighborhood of $100,000 in donations. OATH now stands very near the sum total of their goal. Chris notes, “The passion and determination of this group of students, on behalf of someone they have never met prior to last year, is a testament to the passion we ALL must share for our wounded warriors. Indeed, for all the men and women who protect and sacrifice each and every day on OUR behalf. I look forward to experiencing that same determination from my friends and colleagues come this July”.
Groundbreaking has begun on Jerral’s property. Within a couple months, he and his children will be able to move from cramped mobile housing to a home where sacrifices made can be turned into new beginnings.