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Taya Kyle Gives Heartfelt Keynote Address at TCA’s Gala Benefiting Wreaths Across America
Inspiring veterans-focused fundraiser raises more than $225,000
On Tuesday evening, Taya Kyle, FOX News Channel contributor, author, and veterans' activist, addressed participants at the Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) fourth annual Charitable Gala. The event benefited the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America (WAA), raising $75,155 to support logistics for delivering hundreds of thousands of fresh remembrance wreaths to adorn veterans’ graves on December 17th, National Wreaths Across America Day. It also raised an additional $150,000 to support WAA’s overall mission.
Kyle is the widow of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and co-author of American Wife: A Memoir of Love, Service, Faith, and Renewal. Her speech brought tears to the eyes of some in attendance as she described how her husband died and how her family managed to survive the tragedy.
Other notable participants included veteran Candy Martin, whose son, First Lieutenant Thomas Martin, was killed in action in Iraq in 2007, and who is now president of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in service to the U.S.; Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000 and the daughter of a disabled veteran, who served as master of ceremonies; and Morrill and Karen Worcester, founders of Wreaths Across America.
“This year, the Worcesters asked us to fundraise specifically for logistics to haul the wreaths because without their delivery, there can be no National Wreaths Across America Day. The trucking industry’s participation is absolutely essential to this effort,” said Russell Stubbs, TCA’s chairman. “We’re seeking additional involvement from those in the industry, particularly for the delivery process. We need trucking companies that can haul loads if they never have before, haul more loads than they’ve done in the past, and ask their fellow trucking company executives to help, too. Actually, any individual or company from any industry can make a financial contribution to help a participating owner operator with fuel costs.”
A surprise donation was given after Taya Kyle spoke: $50,000 from the National Association of Independent Truckers (NAIT) Foundation, represented by Scott Miller, managing vice president of TRANSGUARD Insurance Company of America, Inc.
“We are proud to support the trucking industry’s involvement in honoring those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice via the Wreath’s Across America project. In addition to the monetary contribution, our employees look forward to participating at several locations in the laying of the wreaths. We are committed to the support of our veterans and the trucking industry,” he said.
The Gala was hosted by Pilot Flying J and Freightliner Trucks, and sponsored by TravelCenters of America/Petro and Randall-Reilly. After a reception and dinner, a special cake was brought out to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Worcester family first laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. To accompany the cake, Patrick Simmons, senior director of transportation for Walmart’s Private Fleet, offered a “present” on behalf of the Walmart Foundation — a $150,000 donation check.
Throughout the evening, small fundraisers brought in additional funds, such as the “wine grab” sponsored by TravelCenters of America/Petro, and a photo booth sponsored by DriverFACTS. There was also a silent auction featuring trips, electronics, jewelry, and limited edition artwork. A special video, presented by Drivewyze, honored trucking family members who sacrificed their lives to protect America’s freedom.
The Gala took place in conjunction with TCA’s policy committees and board of directors meetings at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C.
For more information about Wreaths Across America and National Wreaths Across America Day, visit www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org. To volunteer equipment or driving services, or to sponsor a load to haul the wreaths, visit www.TruckloadOfRespect.com. You can also search the hashtag #WAAGala to view photos and updates from the event.