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For the last few years, we have awarded a member of Operation Enduring Warrior the CANDOR award, named in honor of late OEW President Eric Schmitz. Command Sergeant Major Eric Schmitz was a respected leader in the Army and within our organization. This award serves to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves through their leadership in support of the OEW mission and the honorees we serve.


At the 2024 gala, Team Member Jeremy Scharlow's hard work and leadership with OEW was recognized when he was awarded the CANDOR award. We asked Jeremy to share with us how OEW has impacted him. He provides a bit of his story and shares some words of motivation. Thank you for all you do to support our OEW Family, Jeremy!


"In mid-2016, I found myself facing an unimaginable ordeal when I was ambushed and shot. From that moment on, my life spiraled into a dark abyss of pain and despair. The challenges I encountered were so overwhelming that they nearly pushed me to the brink of ending my own life.


But amidst the darkness, a glimmer of hope emerged. I decided to speak out about the harrowing realities of mental health struggles, particularly among law enforcement officers like me who had been injured in the line of duty.


2018 became a pivotal year. I was tired of struggling alone, feeling like no one cared, and watching my department do nothing to assist. I began speaking out publicly about what I was experiencing on social media. As I shared, I found other injured officers experiencing the same type of pain. This made me want to speak louder and attempt to stop the horrible way we discard our injured when they are no longer deemed useful. This is how Operation Enduring Warrior found me. Members from the organization reached out, and explained they had heard my message and were ready to step up and help. I soon found myself honored by OEW and attending an event in Kuttawa Kentucky. There, I was embraced by the incredible members of the masked athlete team and experienced firsthand the unwavering support and compassion of the OEW family.


OEW didn't just support me during my darkest moments; they became my lifeline, my guiding light when I felt lost in the depths of despair. They helped me navigate the treacherous path towards healing, both physically and emotionally, reminding me with every step that I was NOT DEAD so I couldn't Quit. This became my motto. NOT DEAD, CAN'T QUIT.


As I immersed myself in their mission of honoring, empowering, and motivating injured veterans and police officers, I began to find the strength I never knew I possessed. OEW provided me with opportunities to give back, teaching me the profound healing power found in reaching out to help others.


What started as a journey of personal struggle and pain has blossomed into a story of resilience, growth, and purpose. Over my five and a half years with OEW, I've transformed from feeling utterly hopeless to proudly wearing the mask of a true athlete. And now, I've discovered a new calling where I'm raising funds for child victims of abuse and neglect.

OEW didn't perform miracles, but they empowered me to discover reserves of strength and resilience I never thought possible. They showed me that with unwavering support, dedication, and hard work, anything is achievable.


So, to all those out there battling their own demons, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are communities like OEW that will stand by you, support you, and empower you to overcome even the toughest of challenges. Your journey may be difficult, but there is hope, and there are people who will help you find your way back into the light.


In the depths of the abyss, being the light for others can help us all escape the darkness!"

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At the 2024 Gala, we recognized several of our outstanding OEW family members. One of these awards is the Community Ambassador of the Year. This year, Allen Cole was recognized for his outstanding work supporting OEW and our mission. While he couldn't attend in person, we were able to dial him in via Zoom to celebrate!


Thank you, Allen, for being such a force for good in our community.


We asked him to share why he is a part of OEW and what this award means to him. "I discovered Operation Enduring Warrior by accident in the summer of 2020 after competing at War-X. I investigated the organization and liked how OEW is a 100% volunteer-run, and the donations go directly to support the organization and their programs. I wanted to get involved with an organization that supported veterans, but I wasn't sure who I wanted to get involved with. When I found out that Operation Enduring Warrior helps those who have served and sacrificed for our safety and security, I knew I had to help. “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit,” Ronald Reagan.

 

I met Brain Lackey the local OCA in Fredericksburg, Virginia to learn more about OEW and see how I can contribute and fit in with the OEW team. My very first volunteer with OEW was only a few months later on a cold Saturday morning at Fletcher’s Cove for a Bishop Event in Georgetown, DC. For the next few years, I learned from different OCAs on how to deliver our message to the public and how OEW supports veterans and 1st responders in different ways. 

 

In the fall of 2021, I started my own fundraising campaigns starting with teachers at my school donating to wear jeans for a month and to my extreme sports (i.e. obstacle course racing, Goruck events, and ultra rucks/hikes) to raise awareness and money for Operation Enduring Warrior. “Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz

 

I am honored and humbled to receive the Community Ambassador of the Year from Operation Enduring Warrior. This award represents the collective effort of my family and friends who believe in the mission of giving back to those who are willing to sacrifice everything for us to be safe. Without their dedication and support, this achievement would not have been possible.

 

I have always been passionate about supporting our veterans and first-responders and I have dedicated myself to helping where I can over the years that will benefit the veterans and first-responders community. Receiving this award confirms that that I’m in the right place to support our nation’s heroes. My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.  John F. Kennedy 

 

Thank you again for this amazing opportunity and recognition. I am truly grateful and proud to be a part of Operation Enduring Warrior.

 

Quotes

There is no greater thing you can do with your life than follow your passion in a way that serves the world and you. 

 

Make a choice of what you want, who you want to be & who you're going to inspire along the way as you get it. The world will get out of your way.

 

You can't stop bad things from happening. You have three choices. You can let it define you, let it defeat you, or you can let it strengthen you. It's your choice. 

 

Success isn't just about what you accomplish in your life, it's about what you INSPIRE others to do."

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In the world of charitable organizations and selfless acts, there are individuals who shine bright, embodying the spirit of compassion and dedication. One such shining star is Drenden Rainey, whose journey led to him becoming an honorary member of the Masked Athlete Team (MAT) at our 2024 gala.  This story not only reflects Dre's commitment but also highlights the profound impact of his parents, Josh and Jennifer, within the Operation Enduring Warrior family.

 

Josh Rainey, Dre's father, is an integral part of the Operation Enduring Warrior (OEW) family. As a proud member, Josh has consistently demonstrated the power of volunteering, showcasing how one individual can contribute to the greater good. His mother, Jennifer, has given countless hours supporting the team and Josh's efforts to support honorees. Growing up with parents actively involved in OEW, Dre Rainey witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of volunteering. Josh Rainey not only dedicated his time but also instilled in his son the values of empathy, selflessness, and the importance of giving back to the community. As a result, Dre developed a passion for making a positive impact on the lives of others.

 

Dre Rainey's dedication and enthusiasm for supporting the Masked Athlete Team became evident during the pre-gala fitness event. Dre's willingness to go above and beyond in assisting the team did not go unnoticed, setting the stage for a remarkable recognition.  In a heartwarming gesture, the Masked Athlete Team decided to honor Dre Rainey by inviting him to join their esteemed ranks as an honorary member. This recognition at our 2024 gala is a testament to Dre's outstanding contributions, his dedication to the mission of OEW, and his embodiment of the values that MAT holds dear.

 

Dre Rainey, now an honorary member of the Masked Athlete Team, is poised to continue making a significant impact within the OEW community and shows that everyone can make an impact on the lives of our honorees and our team members. His journey is an inspiring example of how a family's commitment to service can shape the values of the next generation and contribute to a collective effort to make the world a better place.

 

Dre Rainey's induction as an honorary member of the Masked Athlete Team is a celebration of not only his individual efforts but also the legacy of service instilled by his parents, Josh and Jennifer. As we applaud Dre for his dedication, let us be reminded of the ripple effect that acts of kindness and selflessness can have, inspiring others to join the noble cause of making a positive impact in our communities.

 

Do you want to learn more about how to volunteer?  Visit HERE:  https://www.enduringwarrior.org/volops

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