A pretty amazing fundraiser developed by Bill Christman is happening right under our noses here in the Quad Cities. Bill decided it wasn't enough to just say, "Thanks" to the Special Forces in harms way for protecting the freedoms we enjoy. He wanted to make a personal statement to the families of those killed in action. He and his organization, THANK THE SEALs, ride to the hometowns of these fallen heroes and hand deliver a check to their families, with no strings attached.

The money varies, depending on the donations from the previous year. But the sentiment is consistent. "Thank-you for your sacrifice," to the spouse and family left behind in the wake of their commitment to freedom and the price they also paid when their warrior was taken in the line of duty.

It's a pretty simple yet remarkable message. THANK THE SEALs fundraise throughout the year, and then host a benefit dinner and auction before embarking on a journey to see the family and hand them a check. I was able to attend this years' dinner, and it's an emotional evening for all concerned. Retired Seal Team member Sonny Mason thanked the gathered supporters, saying that their help makes a real, tangible difference to the families. In all, two families will split the almost $38,000 raised in the past year. At this writing, a group of riders are on their way to present a check to the family of Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Vaughn.

I didn't know him, but after seeing the video tribute to him, and also LTC Rob Baldwin on Friday Night, I realize that his story is mine. Pursuit of life, love, family, and freedom. The difference is that he stood up for and defended that freedom, and paid the highest price.

I'm proud that this organization started here in the Quad Cities. I'm glad that I can be involved in a meaningful way, thanking the families of those who served.

https://www.facebook.com/thanktheseals/

USMC SpFrRecon Khalif Turner speaks to the VIP guests at the THANK THE SEALs fundraising dinner Friday, July 28, 2017.