Cape family first to benefit from WWA Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund

Cape family first to benefit from WWA Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund

Published in the Cape Coral Daily Breze Oct. 31, 2014 issue

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund changed the lives of a Cape Coral couple and their 1-year old son, Keygan, Wednesday, Oct. 22, when the organization donated $1,200 to Melissa and Eddie Breese.

“I didn’t even see the amount on the check until after they left,” Melissa said the following day. “Eddie looked at it and I seen tears in his eyes as they were walking out the door. He handed me the check . . . what can I say . . . it was amazing.”

Although the family recently lost their home, among other things, Melissa said people like the Wounded Warrior Anglers really came through for them, helping them see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Wounded Warrior Anglers just paid our first month’s rent,” Melissa said, adding that the donation also helped with putting down a deposit for their electric.

Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Judy Souders, Keith Campbell and Eddie Breese.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders, Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Keith Campbell and Eddie Breese.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders and Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Members Kevin Purdy and Keith Campbell presented the family with the check donation.

“This avenue for Wounded Warrior Anglers can be powerful for our community and the outreach we can do,” Souders said.

Melissa said they are beyond thankful.

“She is an angel,” she said of Souders.

“I thank God for all the help and all the good hearted people that have really come through for us,” Melissa said. “I don’t even know how to begin to tell you . . . there are so many wonderful people.”

The Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund became a part of the organization on Oct. 14. The fund was created to provide appropriate relief to eligible veterans or disabled veterans who experience a qualifying event or emergency.

“I think it is a fabulous thing that Wounded Warrior Anglers is doing,” Purdy said. “I feel very blessed to be a part of it.”

The Breese family was the first to benefit from the newly established fund because of a recent hardship they are experiencing.

Eddie, a Fort Myers High School graduate, enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Desert Storm from 1988 to 1992. After returning from the service he started working on roofs, while owning his own business at one time.

“We have always been the ones to help others,” Melissa said. Often times, she said her husband would repair roofs for free for other veterans.

Unfortunately on Sept. 11, Eddie took a bad fall, falling 25-feet through a skylight to the concrete. That fall broke his back, mangled his right arm, broke his ribs and gave him severe head trauma.

“There is no rational explanation why he is alive,” Melissa said.

The only explanation is this man is a true Marine having nothing but muscle before he fell.

“That was probably what saved his life,” she said. “That he was in good shape at the time of the accident.”

Although the past few months have been extremely trying, Melissa said she is thankful.

“We have such a long road ahead of us,” she said. “At the end of the day I am so blessed because I have my husband and Keygan still has a dad.”

After Lee Memorial Health System let him go because of insurance purposes after the accident, Melissa took her husband to the VA clinic in Cape Coral. Once the ER doctor looked at Eddie, he immediately called an ambulance and rushed him to Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

While he was at Bay Pines he spent time going to a speech pathologist, physical therapist and occupation therapist.

Eddie returned home Friday, Oct. 17, after spending two months in the hospital.

“They absolutely love him up there,” Melissa said. “They were so good to him. I knew he was in the absolute best care. They treated him like gold. He had such good doctors. They were just awesome.”

Because his case is so complex, Eddie has to travel to Bay Pines to continue the therapy two days a week, which completely wears him out. The trip wears him out because since the accident, Eddie suffers from extreme vertigo, causing his head to spin constantly. He has also experienced a lot of weakness in his right arm.

“Head trauma is the worst,” Melissa said. “Normal every day thinking is a multi-choir for him. He has severe memory loss.”

Purdy became a member of Wounded Warrior Anglers when the organization first began because it is an organization that he really believes in without question.

“I met them at Miceli’s two years ago,” he said of the founders Judy and Dave Souders. “They were selling tickets for the original raffle boat. I was very impressed with Dave and Judy with their vision and commitment.”

Purdy served in the U.S. Calvary from 1973 to 1976 before his knee was destroyed during a training exercise in Germany in 1976.

Campbell, a founder of another nonprofit organization in Southwest Florida, spent his time focusing on fund-raising, paying tribute to veterans and helping them in their time of need. After the founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers asked him if he would like to be a committee member for the Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund, he was on board.

Campbell said he was excited after meeting the Souders because they gave him another avenue in which he could help veterans. That avenue being PTSD.

“It always feels good to help out veterans,” Campbell said. “I enjoy doing it. I don’t do it for recognition. I come from a long line of veterans in my family. It has always been in the blood.”

Came to my rescue

I have such a caring man by my side. I love him to pieces.

Yesterday Jason had the day off from his now two jobs, so I took the day off as well. He planned a hiking trip with one of the girls he works with at the Marriott in town and her son, as well as his cousin and two boys.

We all eventually arrived at the Devils Bath Tub in Virginia, with the hope that the weather would stay nice enough for all of us to enjoy a day out in nature.

After waiting for some time in the parking area at the trailhead of the Devils Bath Tub for his cousin, Jason decided to put a note in the window telling them we already hit the path.

It was overcast and the winds were changing, which told us the rain was on its way. We have been out on a few hikes where it started to rain, but decided to push on, which worked in our favor because the storm always passed us by.

We were on our way, with Lucy of course.

The trail looked much different yesterday, the water level in the creeks was much higher and the rock beds, which were dry last time, had water running through them. With overcast skies, the look of the trail and vegetation was much different as well. The darker hue was breathtaking.

Eventually the rain drops began and after some discussion we all decided to hike on . . . Our tune eventually changed as the leaves could no longer hold onto the weight of the rain water and the drops started falling at faster rates. We found some coverage, well a little bit of coverage, and stopped to see what would happen. At this point the rest of our group joined us on our wet hiking adventure.

As we were all gathered in the same spot, an intense lightning bolt struck, which sounded like it was extremely close by. Jason called it, our hike was over. He wanted to make sure everybody was safe, and after reading about someone being killed on Fort Myers Beach, near where we used to live, the day before from being struck by lightning, we knew better than to take any chances.

By this point, I had picked Lucy up and wrapped her in my shirt, which was gaining dampness by the minute. Thank goodness I packed another long sleeve Under Armour shirt that I could wear. This poor puppy of ours gets cold really fast.

With the decision finalized, everybody turned around and began walking as fast as they could, while being careful not to stumble on tree roots or rocks along the path. We were all extremely soaked, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

It was crazy to see how fast the path filled with water and how the intensity of the creeks changed as it filled with rain water.

Although I was not scared, I was glad Jason called the hike and we all decided to walk back to the car. Since we were all soaked, it got cold, especially when walking through the creeks, which was also cold, as we followed the trail out.

Jason was always close by as we crossed the creeks, which he confessed later almost ended up putting him in the water. I love how he makes sure I am always okay. I’m still a little hesitant on crossing some of the creeks, which by this point I shouldn’t be. My courage constantly grows though, which is good.

Even the little boy who came out with his mom, was keeping an eye on me. It was absolutely adorable, 10 years old, and he was looking out for me. He was right in front of me, loving every minute of being out in nature and walking in the rain. I spotted him turning around to make sure I was still coming. What a nice young man.

It wasn’t until almost the very end of the trail that led us to the final creek to cross where I took a spill, a really hard spill. As we turned a corner I walked close to the edge of the trail because there was a large pool of water. As soon as my foot hit the edge it slid in the mud and I fell pretty hard on my hip. Mind you, I still had Lucy in my arms. I have no idea how I did it, but I kept Lucy in my arms as I hit the ground, cushioning her blow.

I’m so proud of Lucy, she was such a sport. She didn’t budge at all as she sought out comfort in my arms.

Jason was ahead of me a few steps and before I knew it he was by my side leaning down grabbing my hand to pull me up. It all happened so fast. I was really covered in mud.

As I stood up, I placed my forehead on his shoulder as he asked if I was okay. He said he heard the impact of me hitting the ground on my hip, as well as the squeal I let out. His caring tone almost brought me to tears, so I picked my head up looked him in his eyes before he took Lucy’s leash and we started walking again. I was proud that I restrained from crying, even though the tears started filling my eyes.

I was in a lot of pain, but we were almost to the finish line, if you will, and the rain was still pouring down, so I had no other choice but to keep moving.

We made it to the car and then back to our place, where his cousin and boys joined us for lunch.

Although we couldn’t finish our hike, and I took a nasty fall, and Jason lost his glasses, it turned out to be a fantastic day. The day was full of a lot of laughter and after our company left to head back to Kentucky, the good times continued with Jason.

Today, well, I’m a little sore, so I decided to stay at home and not go for a run or head to the gym. I’m kind of surprised I haven’t found any bruises yet, but a little bummed about how achy I am. I guess it all comes with the adventures of loving the outdoors.

A single leaf

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The past few weeks my front window has been covered with leaves when I get in the car.

This morning before I left for the gym, one single leaf greeted me. It caught my attention, especially with the backdrop … some bare trees and some with leaves.

Nature will always grab my attention.

More fall colors

After going out into nature yesterday, I got the bug, I wanted to go out again today and take more pictures of all the beautiful colors. (That’s the beautiful thing about freelance work, I can make my own schedule. The only downfall is when I get back from hikes like this, I don’t want to go back to work.)  Jason and I went back to the first place we visited when arriving in Kingsport in May, Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium in Kingsport. I really enjoyed seeing all of the changes, our hike was gorgeous today.

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We decided to take the trail that circled the lake, about a 2.3 mile hike on the Lakeside Trail. I wanted to take some pictures of the trees with the reflection off of the lake. unfortunately I had no such luck, there was too much wind, making the water rather choppy.

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I’m happy with what I was able to capture, especially with the cloud coverage . . . and then the bright sun.  IMG_0749

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There were lots of places along the trail that had flashes of color in a sea of green.

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Always catches my attention!

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Last night it rained pretty hard, so there were even more leaves on the path. I could really smell fall this morning, the smell of leaves. There is nothing like that smell, it again brought me back to my childhood.

IMG_0702I picked up some more leaves today for my friend Dorene. I was so excited to see so many beautiful leaves at the rest area in Virginia last weekend, I didn’t think it all the way through. By the time we made it to Maryland the leaves were already drying and the corners were shriveled. So as soon as we hit the path today, my hands became full again. I gathered more than a dozen leaves and brought them straight into the house, so I can flatten them and send them off. It was exciting choosing the right ones, sharing a piece of our new home with a friend.

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The picture above is one of my favorites, the vibrancy of the colors were amazing on the trail today. Yesterday it was the red leaves that caught my attention, today it was the bright yellow and orange.

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IMG_0740How can you not like the fall, when you see colors like this? Breathtaking!

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I like when I saw the red and yellow leaves together, incredible.

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Before leaving the trail we saw a beehive and what looks like some holly.  IMG_0730

This is the road leading into the park. Jason and I kept saying we couldn’t wait to see some of the roads we traveled when visiting the waterfalls when the leaves began to change. The sight was more incredible than I could have imagined.  IMG_0765

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IMG_0769Like I said yesterday, fall is my favorite season so far. Well now that I am completely relaxed, I better get back to writing.

The leaves are changing colors

Jason took me to the Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, Virginia this morning, a much needed break from all of my freelance writing and editing.

It was time to get out of the house and see the outdoors after two straight days of being stuck in my office, especially since we started noticing that the leaves were finally changing in our area.

It’s breathtaking to see how the leaves go from a lush, beautiful green, to so many different hues.

IMG_0616Although some of the trees were beautiful, others were already bare.

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IMG_0643I love the hues of reds stuck in the middle of all the other colors, it definitely pops.

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I’m in awe, such a beautiful time of the year.

IMG_0628As we were walking the different trails, I had to stop every couple of minutes, so I could capture more of the colors.

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IMG_0630So far, I think the fall is definitely my favorite season. Every time we go outside the scenery becomes more beautiful.

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The tunnel was also pretty neat to see, especially with the train tracks running through.

IMG_0676According to information on a sign at the Natural Tunnel, “The South Atlantic and Ohio Railroad began laying tracks through Natural Tunnel in 1882, connecting Bristol, Tennessee, with the coalfields of southwestern Virginia.” It eventually became known as the Natural Tunnel Route when it was taken over in 1899 by the Virginia and southwestern railroad. Today, the tracks carry about 10 trains a day to ship coal from mines in southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

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IMG_0680The tunnel is 850 feet long and 100 feet high inside.

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IMG_0682Too bad we didn’t see a train go through when we were there.

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The reds are beautiful.  IMG_0639

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I loved the path and the stairs . . .  all full of leaves.

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Such a beautiful path.  IMG_0668

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The two pictures below are my favorite from today. IMG_0654Now I want to go for some hikes on the trails we found when we moved to the area.

I could only imagine how beautiful they are now.

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This last picture is for one of my fellow bloggers (Running To Her Dreams) . . . I finally found a heart!  IMG_0689

Now I can begin working again and knock out some more articles and editing. I feel refreshed from walking around in our 60 degree weather smelling the fall leaves.

Hopefully tomorrow we can go capture some more beauty at a different park before the trees all become bare.

Fall colors

When Jason and I first started talking about moving to Tennessee, I remember thinking, oh I can’t wait for the fall! I have so many great memories from living on the farm in Illinois playing in the leaves.

This past weekend we drove to Maryland to see my younger brother and his family who just moved to the area. The drive was gorgous, the trees had so many beautiful hues. I said “wow” on more than one occasion as I was looking out the window taking in the beautiful scenery. I just couldn’t get enough of all the leaves.

The farther north we drove the prettier the trees became. We eventually stopped at a rest area in Virginia, a stop with so many beautiful trees. As Jason was looking at the map to figure out the rest of the trip, I took my camera, put on a jacket and walked around the grounds snapping away.

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My favorite tree . . . the colors were magnificiant.

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The more I walked around the more I got to thinking, oh this would be the perfect place to pick up some leaves for my good friend Dorene and her kids.

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So now I’m walking around with a ton of leaves in my hand, which are now frozen, and my camera trying to take a few more pictures before Jason came looking for me.

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Of course on the way back from Maryland we stopped at another rest area in Virginia and I was able to capture even more colors.

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I am in love with the fall colors. I find myself looking at the scenery around me more and more everytime I leave the house.