By Katie Alberico, Senior Account Executive
As the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day is a weekend many see as a celebration with friends and family. Rentals opening, shore towns coming back to life, burgers and dogs on the grill with the promise of warmer weather on the horizon. But Memorial Day is more than just a day or weekend for me; it’s woven into my everyday life.
I always joke that my first full-time job is in PR and my second is being a military spouse. When you marry someone in the military, you’re really marrying their job as well. So, this past October I can proudly say I married the love of my life AND the Navy!
Taking Up a Cause
After the recent F/A-18 crash off the coast of Key West, I was heartbroken for the families who lost loved ones, the friends who lost a squadron mate and humbled by the outpouring of love and support from our community. My husband flies a variation of the plane that went down, and I know we consider his squadron our family, so to see another family lose two of its members is truly heartbreaking.
I can’t change what happened, and I can’t prevent that from happening to me, but what I can control is how I choose to remember those we have lost.
This past Sunday, I decided to put my hobby of running towards a cause near and dear to my heart – The Wingman Foundation.
Their mission is simple, to honor the sacrifices of our fallen air warriors and support the families they’ve left behind. The Wingman Foundation provides critical post-mishap financial relief, funds memorials and remembrance ceremonies, sharing the stories of the fallen, and offers scholarships in their honor.
I’ve run races before – in fact, I’ve participated in Philadelphia’s Broad Street run three times – but lacing up my sneakers was different this time. With fellow VFA-34 spouses by my side, we set out to run the Valor Run 10-mile race in Virginia Beach to raise awareness and funds for the Wingman Foundation. As we crossed the finish line, I realized these friends I have begun to call family have become more then I could have ever imagined.
Tonic’s Personal Connection to Our Work
My involvement with the Wingman Foundation and running the Valor Run reminds me just how important these types of events can be to those who benefit from them. Through our work at Tonic, we hear over and over how patients can feel like a number and not a person, but events like awareness walks or advocacy partnerships bring people together that might not have connected or interacted before. Working directly with patients and caregivers provides us with a first-hand experience that is truly invaluable.
At Tonic, we have an opportunity to meet and empathize with the patients and caregivers we work with, tailoring activities to better fit their needs. As someone whose personal life has been touched by the work of an advocacy group like the Wingman Foundation, I can attest to just how truly meaningful it is to feel like they not only hear you, but understand you as an individual, and I am proud to work at a place that recognizes this.
I will certainly do my share of time with friends over the long weekend, but over the past year specifically, Memorial Day has taken on a new and more personal meaning. This Memorial Day, I hope you will enjoy your time off, revel in the warm weather and remember those who gave all so we can enjoy times like these.