TMF is an outstanding, well-run organization that benefits both the communities it serves, and the volunteers it attracts. Personally, I've truly benefited from the experience of volunteering with TMF, both because of the direct, positive difference I've seen it have on young people, and because its given me a chance to connect with fellow veterans while working for a great cause.
I was first introduced to the Travis Manion Foundation by the DFW chapter leader Dion Brugger during the first Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge in January 2019. Since then Dion has become a staff member as the Central Region Manager and Sam Horwitz has become the local chapter lead. Meanwhile I have become an Ambassador for TMF, Character Does Matter mentor, #CharacterIsntCanceled presenter and 911 Heroes Run DFW local race director.
Over the past two years what I have gained personally far outweighs anything I have done with TMF. With pep talks from Sam and Dion as well as support from not only other TMF Spartans but even organizations we partner with such as TMC, I have been able to give and give back in a way I had not dreamed was even possible before. I absolutely love how TMF works with other veteran service organizations, youth organizations, community partners and individuals. While the Character Does Matter presentations are meant to educate youth on their character strengths, how they can develop them and use them in their lives and their communities; I too have learned these things as well. My life now has a sense of purpose and direction as well as I have many awesome people to look up to as role models and inspiration. Some of these awesome people I get to work side by side with through various opportunities with the Travis Manion Foundation.
The best part? There are so many best parts! I find myself struggling to adequately express how great being a part of the Travis Manion Foundation has been, is and the impact it's not only had on me personally but those around me and my community. I can't begin to imagine the number of lives that have been changed. If I give a Character Does Matter presentation to a class of students, I may never know the impact that might have in the life of one of our youth who had no role model to look up to. When I participate in Operation Nourish and we feed 500 families that day, we are giving more than food; we are giving hope. When we have a fund raiser, I may not know how that money is spent but I know it's done so in a responsible manner that truly gives back and pays it forward. When calling fellow Spartans during Covid19, I can never truly know if one of the dozens I talked with will go on to change the life of another. I have seen the look of pure joy when someone was relieved that there was really food for them at the food pantry. I have experienced great gratitude and hugs for simply just showing up. My heart was full of joy when I'd hang up from an hour long phone call to a fellow Spartan who was lonely during social isolation. I have felt the appreciation when I have given someone my "If Not Me; Then Who" bracelet. And each time I talk with a group of students about character strengths and role models, I have great hope for each and every one. Some get it that very day and with others I pray that I'm planting seeds. I'm honored and proud to be a Spartan volunteer. I'm grateful for each and every opportunity. And TMF has many opportunities to participate!
I am not a TMF employee but I will speak from what I have seen and heard. The people I know that work with TMF have nothing but awesome things to say. "Dream Job" with a dream company. Not once have I heard an unkind or less than complimentary word about TMF from anyone who works with them in a paid capacity or otherwise.
From community partners I have heard nothing but great things. And as I volunteer with other organizations, I'm also a community partner with TMF. While some may tell me, "Angel, you need to cut down some of what you're doing." TMF and my local leadership encourage volunteering with other organizations. Each time I have gone to TMF leadership, they've always come through to support whichever community partner has a project or event happening. And they do so with enthusiasm.
It is an honor and blessing to be a volunteer with the Travis Manion Foundation. I write this review in the hopes that others too can benefit from being involved with TMF. "If not me; then who?"
I love volunteering with TMF! The mission is something we all need right now! I am
So happy to be apart of this wonderful team!
Travis Manion Foundation is remarkable organization that has become a big part of my life. I've been inspired by their mission to honor veterans and families of the fallen through service. I've witnessed firsthand how the TMF team and programs have given people purpose and meaning in their lives. The "If Not Me, Then Who" ethos is embodied in all aspects of my involvement with TMF.
Joining the Travis Manion Foundation as a volunteer race director in 2013 was truly a life-changing experience for me. I was looking for a way to make a difference in my community and also find a way to honor a fallen local hero. Taking on the challenge of hosting the 9/11 Heroes Run in Madisonville, Kentucky has been an amazing experience over the last 8 years. I'm happy that through our event, so many MORE people have learned about the amazing programs offered by the Travis Manion Foundation; so many more than just the 9/11 Heroes Run (which is also amazing, and truly beneficial to our local first responders through the funding we receive). Our local schools have participated in the Character Does Matter program every year except 2020 (due to covid) and our community has participated in Op Legacy projects. I feel that Hopkins County is better because of our partnership with TMF!
I have been a part of the TMF Family for over 4 years and I can say that I have found my tribe. The dedication they have to our communities and building character in future generations is second to none. Every TMF employee is committed to doing good and being good for a purposes higher than themselves. They put tremendous amounts of detail and focus into their student programming, how they engage with their volunteers, and the support they give to veterans and families of the fallen. Their nationwide 9/11 Heroes Runs focus on honoring those we lost on 9/11 and since then in the GWOT. Every employee and volunteer is of the highest character and I'm proud to stand alongside them as we challenge ourselves to unite communities.
Far exceeding expectations would be an understatement for the Travis Manion Foundation. Travis Manion and I went to school together and both joined the Marine Corps and I still remember the day we got the news. I have participated in 9/11 Heroes Runs in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Texas and I have been a part of many forms of outreach with TMF, both for veterans and family members as well as members of our community. In addition to the amazing work that this incredible foundation accomplishes for so many communities, the people they employ, board members, and volunteers alike are all incredible people that embody making this world a better place.
In my experience, Travis Manion Foundation is the best of the best on all fronts. But most notably they care immensely for the funds they take in. After seeing first hand how they handle their business and take care of those in need, and then looking at their impeccable financials, I am even more impressed. I have witnessed the impact they make, and they will be able to continue that for many years to come because of how much they take care.
I started volunteering as a Travis Manion 9/11 Heroes run race director in 2013 and have continued that work ever since. I live in a small family oriented community and I love being able to get together on a Sunday morning in September with family, friends and neighbors to remember 9/11 and our heroes both local and around the country. I have met so many amazing people both in the Travis Manion Foundation and through supporters of the 9/11 Heroes run. I look forward to working with that Travis Manion Foundation for years to come.
Travis Manion Foundation is a class act organization. The national leadership has a wonderful way of distilling the overall message into ways that connect directly with all of the communities involved. Under the banner of TMF, our group has had the opportunity to generate service project that some others may see as too small (collecting and donating pet supplies to a local no kill shelter) or too dirty (building and maintaining mountain bike trails in an impoverished area of the city). TMF sees the value of these projects and encourages us because “If Not Me, Then Who?”
I came across Travis Manion Foundation at Marine Corp Marathon
expo in 2014. I remembered reading about Travis and Brendan in Parade Magazine. I started following the TMF Facebook page and they were looking for race directors for 9/11 Heroes Run so I became one and started the only one in The State of Alabama in Athens, Al. I have been involved with several Operation Legacies in our area and have ran the Marine Corp Marathon in 2017 and 2019 for TMF. I BeLieve in this Foundation so much that they are the #1 Charity that I donate to. Everyone at TMF treats you with so much respect and shows you how much they care about you and appreciate what you do although that is not why I do it. I do it to honor all our fallen and their families, veterans and military. I love “If not me, than who...” ethos. If everyone lived by this motto the world would be a better place.
I have been volunteering with the Travis Manion Foundation for about two years now. I believe it is an amazing organization that truly empowers the future of America and encourages selfless activity.
I first encountered Travis Manion Foundation at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2011. I was there to cheer on some of my former patients running their first marathon on prosthetics or on handcycle. I was looking for a way to stay connected to a veteran-related group and I was really moved by their mission. Fast forward, and I have been with the organization as a mentor for 5 years and it has counted among some of the most memorable moments in my life. I still love the mission, and look forward to many more years of memories and growth!
I have been involved with the Travis Manion Foundation for 3 or 4 years now. I am involved as Mentor in Character Does Matter program, I have sponsored community service project through their Operation Legacy program and I have been a race director for their 9/11 Heroes Run. Their mantra "If Not Me, Then Who..." was what first drew me to TMF. I really appreciate what they do for veterans, offering them opportunities to still serve, only now in their communities. I also appreciate that they include and have programs for Gold Star Family members.
Working with TMF is not a one way street. They invest in their volunteers. I was offered an opportunity to go on an all expense paid, week long expedition in the mountains of Colorado with other TMF volunteers to discuss how we are impacting our communities and to help us develop into more impactful leaders in our own communities.
Shortly after moving to San Diego with the Navy, I came across a book at the bookstore detailing the life of Travis Manion. Upon completion I reached out to the local chapter for the Manion foundation and began participating in various volunteer programs. Anytime I had the opportunity to volunteer I jumped at the chance. One of the bigger programs I got to be a part of was the, Character does matter program. Working with various youth groups in the area, it was great to be able to share my experiences and provide that positive role model. It was also great to see the bright minds of todays youth pave the way for bright future. The Travis Manion Foundation is great for those serving to continue to give back in off time as well as veterans looking to still serve and give back.
I LOVE TMF!!! i have had the absolute pleasure of working with TMF for 2 years now and I still get excited with every group that I work with. During this pandemic, TMF has helped give me a sense of purpose by working with different youth organization to spread the "If Not Me, Then Who" message. The sense of camaraderie that I feel with the other TMF mentors and staff is unlike what I have had before. They truly become your family.
In 2015 to 2016 I was in Iraq as part of an Advise and Assist Team. We established Camp Manion in honor of Travis. In 2018 my wife and I began volunteering with the San Diego chapter of the Travis Manion Foundation. We enjoy participating in the Character Does Matter program where we join other veterans in mentoring young men and women in our area. We volunteer aboard the USS Midway and share our story with the kids. It is a great feeling to inspire and motivate and be a role model to others. The Travis Manion Foundation is a great organization for veterans who are looking to remain connected after leaving active duty. My wife and I are proud to be a part of this foundation.
Travis Manion Foundation has exceeded my expectations. As a former law Enforcement Officer I was looking for a place where I could continue to serve in a meaningful way. Unlike many other Veteran Service Organizations, TMF opened their doors to me. They have so many different programs and opportunities to serve. Now I get to give back to the kids in my community and continue to make a difference.
In 2015, I was seeking to grow both personally and professionally. I was researching answers to self generated questions for a online edX course and discovered the Travis Manion Foundation. I was inspired to subscribe and find out more. I became an "Character Does Matter" Mentor in March 2017 at the first training offered in the DFW,TX area. I instantly felt a connection with the mission and mantra "If Not Me, Then Who..." TMF is the first organization since I separated the Marine Corps in 2004 that truly empowers me to serve others in meaningful ways. I continue to develop new relationships and grow through serving, uniting & empowering others. I am forever grateful to have discovered Travis Manion Foundation.
If you are seeking to grow personally, professionally and to empower future generations, join the mission. https://travismanionfoundation.force.com/s/join-the-mission
Travis Manion Foundation
Dallas / Ft. Worth Metroplex Chapter Lead
"If Not Me, Then Who..."
Amazing things happen when the Travis Manion Foundation empowers you to realize your true potential, to reconnect with a purpose and to pass along lessons of character to our next generation.
Introducing the "If Not Me, Then Who..." mantra to people inspires and creates stronger and more unified communities. You are a leader everyday whether you realize it or not. Your actions influence everyone around you. Begin making each day matter. Service doesn't require a uniform. It requires character. Join the mission today. https://www.travismanion.org/join-the-mission/
Outstanding organization with highly impactful initiatives, engaged volunteers, and inspiring leaders. Perhaps most unique and significant is that TMF seeks to BRIDGE the Civ-Mil gap by uniting communities, sharing the stories of our Nation's fallen, and educating younger generations. Many Veteran Service Organizations serve Veterans...TMF serves Veterans, Civilians, Gold Star Families, America's children, underserved communities, and everyone in between!
I found TMF because I wanted to run the Marine Corp Marathon. I stayed because I believe in their motto, "If Not Me Then Who...", and their mission to elevate the character of the next generation. Volunteering with the foundation has helped me find purpose after hanging up my military uniform and empowers me to give back to my community. I am energized when people recognize the logo when I wear it and share how the foundation has impacted them!
My Son Dante Lewis was taken from me while serving in the Navy on July 15,2016. This has been one of the hardest obstacles to face. Losing someone you love, let alone a child can put you in a really dark place, to the point where you can be surrounded by 1000's of people and still feel alone. A TMF member approached me and invited me to not forget my son but to ensure his legacy goes on forever. They helped with programs such as CDM training, and the Positive psychology. They have taught me to be a better Father to my other children, to be a better human with others and to be a better listener to my community.
They always say that their run is more then just a charity 5k. Every year we do as many 9.11 Heroes Runs as we can and the Hero WOD. Doylestown, Philly Navy Yard, Cooper River Park, Feasterville and West Chester are all awesome runs supporting a good cause for our veterans and their families.
Every experience I have had with TMF has been excellent. The veterans, first responders and Gold Star families are all incredible humans that give so much through action. The action is service and I am better just from being exposed to the mission of building character.
A great organization with an amazing mission, building character in our youth while honoring our fallen heroes.
I got involved with TMF in 2018, when I attended their Transition Workshop initially then signed up for the Character Does Matter Mentor training. I really believed in their mission of empowering veterans and families of the fallen to impact our youth and future generation of leaders. I POC the 2018 Run As One in April and helped with the Character Leadership Course with Gold Star Kids near Ft. Hood at Lake Belton last summer.
In October I was honored to start a new TMF chapter in San Antonio. So for the past six months or so, I have conducted several Operation Legacy service projects in our community plus hosted several Rucking events.
TMF makes a difference to those that need it. Their mission is unique and fills a void that is much needed.
Next month I am conducting a Character Does Matter Presentation to High School ROTC Cadets to teach them about why Character is important.
Getting involved with TMF has changed my life and I am looking forward to continue to make a difference in my community!
My son attended the Teen Expedition in June 2018 and had the best experience honoring his Dad while rebuilding a home in Texas. He didn’t know what to expect going in but left with life long friends and wanting to attend next summer. It really made him feel useful to help rebuild a home and learn life long skills that his Dad never had the chance to teach him. I really saw my son mature during this trip and I am so grateful for the opportunity. Lord knows I can’t do it alone.
TMF has a profound impact on families, the community, and our service members. They provide a sense of purpose and of meaning. Truly unmatched in their demographic and I know I will be a TMF Ambassador for life!
After my husband was killed while serving in the Marines, TMF was always available to assist with any needs that arose. They encouraged me to build a legacy my husband would be proud of, and ultimately helped shovel me out of a very deep hole of grief. They are truly a top-notch nonprofit.
I found TMF in late June of 2016 when I was looking for both a cause to support and a 5k, to get into running. I found both in the (Alexandria) 9/11 Heroes Run. Since then I have been blessed to meet amazing people, and get to call them friends, and I have also been able to volunteer my time with an amazing organization as well.
I came across the Travis Manion Foundation at MCM2014 and started following their page. I believed in what they are doing for our fallen and their families and veterans by carrying on Travis's and others legacies and promoting community leadership. I became a 9/11 Heroes Run Race Director for Athens, Al and headed up OP Legacy in 2016 and WOD in 2018 so that I could promote this great foundation in my community.
As the "Voice of Navy Wrestling" I not only knew Travis (and several of his family members) during his time at the United States Naval Academy, I was able to announce him during his entire competitive career. The work of the Travis Manion Foundation is therefore very close to my heart and by volunteering as a Community Ambassador, the Race Director for the Annapolis 9/11 Heroes Run and Operation Legacy Project Leader, I am able to honor Travis and all that he stood for in very unique ways. I am thankful to have that opportunity through the Foundation that bears his name.
What I love most about TMF is their unrelentingly dedication to the organization's core missions. While it receives tons of national press, the Manion family is incredibly humble and takes the extra effort to sincerely show their appreciation to each and every volunteer and supporter. Their unwavering commitment to develop future leaders who will take a stand, build a legacy, and always remember the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice is incredible. Being a part of the TMF Family is one of the greatest honors of my life.
This is the greatest organization. EVERY person I've met who is part of the Travis Manion Foundation has a true passion to serve. They are amazing. I've been a race director for the 9/11 Heroes Run for the last 3 years. My son is at the Naval Academy and has a history with the foundation since Travis went to the academy so that is why I started to get involved. It's truly an amazing organization. I just can't say enough about their passion to serve our service men and woman and families of the fallen.
I had the privilege of being the race director for Lehigh Valley, PA where we'd raised over $8K in our first year race. We had over 450 people participating and it was amazing and resulted in overwhelming success. My son has a rich history with connections with not only the foundation but those that lead this amazing group. And my daughter was able to convince her school that Travis Manion was not only a hero but his foundation continues to support thousands of families annually - and she designed her National History Day project around the foundation. So our family has been involved in many ways with this organization for many years now. The people are amazing and the mission truly is to honor those who serve. They are amazing and my family and I are looking forward to supporting the Travis Manion Foundation for years to come. Our 9/11 Heroes Race was one of the most moving and rewarding experiences I've been involved in. So, if you're in the Lehigh Valley next September, look us up on facebook and come join the cause to honor our heroes!
I’ve been volunteering with TMF for over a year now. Since staring with them, I’ve met some incredible people and been exposed to awesome volunteer opportunities. Its been very apparent through every volunteer session that the material presented is effective. I’ve also seen the impact the organization makes during community service projects. I have enjoyed being a volunteer and see myself with the organization for years to come.
I first heard of the Travis Manion Foundation (TMF) back in June 2018. The presenters told us how they used positive psychology as a method of influencing people to become better versions of themselves. I joined the organization in July since I saw how much they were giving back to my local community. I did my first event with TMF this Friday, and felt extremely fulfilled to see how well the high school participants we coached did, and felt about the program. Most of the participants had no connection to the military, but they were really sold on the principles TMF presented of "If not me, then who", which was a calling for them to improve the community.
TMF truly empowers Veterans to get after it and do good in the communities in which they live. There are not many, if any organizations that can make this claim....certainly not on the scale that TMF is doing. Rooted in service above self, TMF is inspiring Vets to bring so many value centered ideals and lessons learned in the military that are so crucial to everyday life. This organizations has kids cleaning up neighborhoods, building homes, putting together community 5k runs in honor of our Nation's and Communities' heroes, learning about character, courage, integrity, leadership, and discipline. TMF gives vets a mission and sense of purpose that so many of them miss when they exit the military. TMF=5 Star non-profit through and through.
The Travis Manion Foundation and the City of Mesa Police Department Youth Development Unit with Ben Alexander a U.S.M.C. Veteran completed a 3 phase project.
Over 125 youth participated in the TMF Character Matters presentation and then went out and lived it.
They served at the home of an 84 yr old widow of an Army Veteran. Removing debris, demolishing a wooden fence, rebuilding the fence, landscaping and painting.
It was an amazing experience to see these youth come together and setve someone in their community. Ms. Helen was brought to tears when she saw her new backyard. More then a fence was built on this project. Friendships, character, work ethic and integrity were all developed.
It was an honor to be a part of this team and see the many lives that were changed through TMF.
Travis Manion Foundation is the top nonprofit in the veteran space by far. The leadership & staff exemplify the values and mantra of the organization and their commitment to veterans, families of the fallen and our youth and communities is evident.
As a veteran, I appreciate what the organization does to assist transitioning veterans, the sense of purpose their mentor program provides and their tireless advocacy on behalf of the military-connected community.
I am an ambassador and part of the Coronado, Ca chapter. I want to be a part of a world that includes any and all individuals. The fact that I can do a lot of volunteering with my fifth grader who also embraces the “If not me, then who” means a lot! This picture is a picture of Grandpa Colonel her friend she has met volunteering.
I have been both a part of and seen the impact of the Travis Manion Foundation first hand. I had the honor to serve with Travis personally and to see his legacy live on through his words of "If not me, then who" has been inspiring to me and to so many others. I have personally met and heard the stories of dozens of veterans and military family members that have been inspired by his message and it is humbling to see the impact that Travis's spirit continues to have to this day.
I have attended two TMF programs. Both were amazing. TMF gives people a chance to serve their community. From leadership programs to rebuilding homes. TMF is amazing.
Volunteering with TMF has been a humbling and rewarding experience! Its staff is experts in their field, always ready to help through any challenge, and the volunteers the foundation attracts are top notch people, who live the If Not Me Then Who ethos in their everyday lives.
Really brought out a passion in serving others to myself, and not only did TMF build a sense of self-fulfillment, but it also helps give back to others in many ways
I learned about the Travis Manion Foundation (TMF) after I read the book, "Brothers Forever." Having lost a daughter at birth myself, Trinity Lombardo, and a nephew at 4 1/2 to bone cancer, Adam Wayne Drabek, I could relate to the anger Col Manion must have felt with the loss of his brave son. Instead of throwing out the "white flag" & being consumed in self-pity, Col Manion, a selfless servant for decades, was determined to honor his son Travis by turning his tragedy into a legacy of service to others! I have been affiliated with the TMF for a year now, having completed TMF Ambassador training about 6 months ago. Wearing the TMF "If not me than who" band, I am amazed at the dedication, commitment, & drive of the people I have met intentionally & accidently in my travels, including Gold Star mothers who deeply appreciate the memory of their sons being kept alive in a worthy cause. A former Marine myself & current FBI Agent, I know the best way to honor our fallen is to live a better life & encourage our youth to be more focused on "outcome" rather than "income," meaning they chose to serve others first....not themselves! I am honored & privileged to support TMF with my finances & my time, honoring our fallen by getting engaged in supporting & inspiring the next generation of servant leaders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TMF has my commitment for life because they are committed to strengthening this nation one young man & woman at a time!
I am a proud donor, supporter, and volunteer for the Travis Manion Foundation, an organization that does amazing work in supporting our nation's veterans and Gold Star Families as well as building character in our nation's youths. This nonprofit continues to do amazing work to enrich the lives of our servicemen and women and to develop the next generation of leaders.
The Travis Manion Foundation was absolutely transformative in my journey back into civilian life. Their focus on developing the content of the Nation's character demonstrates their desire to build a better, stronger nation. The leadership has supported me in my journey as an ambassador and a veteran. The opportunity to participate in service projects has filled that desire for service the military impressed upon me.
The Travis Manion Foundation is dedicated to healing and remembering the fallen by positive actions done daily in the spirit of If Not Me Then Who? The mantra of 1Lt Manion has become my daily reminder of how I live and serve my community.
Everyone I have met through my volunteering with TMF demonstrate their selfless service to others in their thoughts and deeds. There is no better organization to invest your time, energy, and resources.
Absolutely the best. TMF helped us considerably when we lost our daughter LT Valerie Cappelaere Delaney in 2013. Since then, they turned us into ambassadors for their "Character Does Matter" program, sent us to Guatemala to build houses in honor of our fallen hero with other gold star parents. We are now leading Operation Legacy in Baltimore and organizing the first TMF heroes run at the Baltimore inner harbor on Oct 1st. Great organization! Great people to work with!
I made contact with TMF over a year ago and immediately felt a charge of energy. I felt the urge to help in any way I can. This non-profit exudes professionalism, integrity, and selflessness to the highest regard. I can't wait to watch the amazing expansion of this great organization. This organization is the embodiment of altruism. A group of people who can see a problem, and can't stand by. They take matters of massive importance into their own philanthropic hands. The organization's motto “If Not Me, Then Who..." - Travis Manion.
TMF empowers veterans through Transition Workshops, mentors young men and women about Charracter and Leadership and rallies entire communities around Operation Legacy Service projects and their 9/11 Heroes Runs.
By honoring fallen heroes, turning tragic stories into positive messages about thriving, TMF keeps our military community and civilian communities connected.
Outstanding staff that provides critical resources to Veterans while also delivering an inspiring message to our youth.
The TMF provides a much needed service to our youth. High schoolers and youths go through a leadership course with hand-picked military veterans with plenty of leadership experience to offer. As a U.S Marine I would have benefited from such program before joining, let alone in the civilian world. The courses are a serious challenge the students take to heart, and it's addictive to continue volunteering as a mentor after watching them grow and exceed our expectations. I volunteered for two cohorts in Philadelphia and other events in the area and California. The veteran volunteers never run out of real world challenges to provide for the students, and the organization schedules venues for tough physical challenges as well as prominent business figures that volunteer their time such as Starbucks regional managers. The courses are quite comprehensive, even a a one day event such as their Outward-bound wilderness challenge or an event in a USS carrier is full real world lessons that resonate with the students. Young leaders join from their communities to become better and challenge others in a positive cycle, which would've otherwise not been available to them without the TMF.
I was apart of Operation Samalama, a memorial run from Houston, Texas to San Diego, California to honor the late Sam "Samalama" Leonard. Sam Leonard set out on an epic journey to raise money for veterans by walking from Largo, Florida to San Diego, California. Unfortunately Sam was forced to stop early do to health issues. He had traveled all the way to Houston, Texas when he realized he had stage 4 stomach cancer. Sam passed away a few months later.
In April of last year, Albie Masland, Nick Biase and I finished Sam's journey. We ran a total of 1500 miles and raised $27,000 for the Travis Manion Foundation. We finished our mission on the flight deck of the USS Midway on April 29th, the day 1st Lt Travis Manion gave the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation in 2007.
One year later, I am honored to say I am the program coordinator for our Veteran Youth Mentorship program that we host on the USS Midway once a month. I get to work with veterans, gold star survivors and children from all over southern California on the same ship I ran to last year.
Being a veteran of the United States Navy makes this entire experience that much more fulfilling. Stepping on board an aircraft carrier similar to the ones I served on while on active duty to inspire the nation's future leaders and to teach them about character, leadership, integrity and service is my new mission. The legacy of all the brave men and women who fought and died to keep our country free will live on through me and the rest of my team at the foundation and I am so grateful to apart of that.
Speaking to 30 high school students on a Saturday morning can be overwhelming and stressful at first. Speaking to a group of adults is hard enough, but they are nothing compared to the critical mind of a teenager who knows everything. I know what these kids are thinking and how they feel because it wasn’t that long ago I was their age, listening to some guy I didn’t know blabbing on and on about this and that. “Don’t do drugs. Don’t drink and drive. Wear your seatbelt.” All the lectures and presentations were more or less the same and they all went in one ear and right out the other. Until one stuck.
I was a senior in high school when I heard one of the best speeches in my life from my high school wrestling coach, Tim Ruschell. We had a home match against one of our cross town rivals and coach was giving us a pep talk in the locker room before we took the mat. There were a few words that stuck with me that day that I will never forget.
I was the captain on the team that year and coach told us if he ever had to go to war he would be happy to go with this team because he knew we had an awesome captain. He looked right at me and said, “Matt Peace is one of the toughest kids I have ever met in my life. He has the heart of a lion. He could be bloody and half dead and would still keep fighting. This team will win tonight because you guys will never quit.”
I don’t have to express how good that made me feel to hear those words coming from one of the best and toughest coaches I ever had in my life. As a teenager, it is difficult to realize how much the adult mentors in your life care about you at the time. You don’t understand how much they want to help you succeed. You think they are mean or they are picking on you specifically. Then you become an adult and you are given the opportunity to be a coach or a mentor and you realize what they were doing. You remember their words and how they pushed you to be a champion and it sticks with you for the rest of your life.
Since my journey with TMF began I have been given the opportunity to do some awesome things. I met a group of incredible people who truly want to help veterans and family members of the fallen transition and develop character in future generations. I became a TMF Ambassador. TMF helped me pursue a career as a working artist and to get my Associates Degree in Fine Art. I went on an incredible run from Houston, Texas to San Diego, California with two other TMF Ambassadors to raise money for veteran and families of the fallen. And now I am a mentor to high school students.
Being a Character Does Matter mentor is one of the most rewarding opportunities someone like me could ever dream of. Looking at a group of teenagers and telling them the story of Travis Manion and his motto, “If Not Me, Then Who…” is more empowering than anything I have ever done in my life. Teaching a group of young adults who have their whole lives ahead of them about character strengths such as integrity, perseverance, teamwork, and living a life of character has driven me to be a better person. Hearing the kids laugh and speak about their life experiences and watching them work together during the team building exercises is a reward in itself.
Working with the other veterans and survivors in the program makes TMF all the better. We have an incredible core of mentors who truly want to help the future generations thrive and flourish. Having such a positive and driven team creates an environment where everyone feels comfortable and engages well with the students. I am truly honored to be part of this team.
While spreading the, “If Not Me, Then Who…” message to the students something very inspiring dawned on me. If we don’t reach out to the future generations, who will? If we are not speaking to these groups of students on Saturday morning, who will? If we don’t tell these kids Travis’ story, who will? If Not Us, Then Who…
My mother used to always say it takes a village to raise a child, and she was right. Children need positive adult mentors in their lives. People need other people in this world. Being a part of a team, a community, or any type of social gathering is important for the development of any young adult. People don’t necessarily always remember what you say but they always remember how you made them feel. TMF does a tremendous job of inspiring young adults to be good people and live a life of character and I am so happy to have this opportunity to help.
After my husband was killed on deployment, I found TMF. It was the first organization that helped to reshape my identity and give me a purpose. I can't thank the staff enough for all they have done to help me - especially in my darkest times!
I love the mission of the foundation, and I will always continue to spread the "If Not Me, Then Who..." movement!
TMF far exceeded my expectations as a civilian. The work they do to help build communities and connect with youth is essential in the world today!
I have had the privilege to witness firsthand the positive impact this incredible organization is making in our communities through the Character Does Matter Program, youth leadership/mentorship programs, and Veterans' Transition Programs. I could not be more impressed with the level of dedication and professionalism shown by everyone, staff and volunteers alike, who strive to assist veterans with their post-military lives, as well as helping the families of our fallen service members. I especially love the foundation's simple and effective message of "If Not Me, Then Who...," and the proactive nature of continuing to instill the vital lessons of character and leadership in young people. As a veteran myself, I find this foundation to be the perfect fit for me to continue my service out of uniform. (Dan M.)
As a Survivor family, we feel blessed to be a part of the TMF family. We continue to be actively involved in local TMF events and will continue to support this foundation and all that it is doing for the families of our fallen heroes and the youth of today.
In my four years being associated with TMC both as a volunteer and community partner, I have been fortunate enough to get to know a lot of the staff personally, and have witnessed their impact first-hand. Their Veteran's Transition Workshop is the most genuine and real transition workshop I have ever been a part of, seeking to use a combination of theory and real world perspectives from the community to give the veterans a realistic view point of what it means to be empowered. The Character Does Matter Program is a veteran's program unique unto itself, challenge the veteran to live up to the values and ethos, but empowering the veterans to become teachers to youth to carry the mantle of community services and positive leadership skills.
Last, every single employee of TMF is passionate, the not only believe in the organization, they are committed to their work, and are passionate to make a positive change. When you attend a TMF event or visit their office, you are met with a wave of positivity that leaves you motivated to go out and make you're own impact.
I consider myself fortunate to be considered a community partner of TMF, as they are a top notch organization that I am proud to be apart of.
I'm a new volunteer with TMF and it all started when I attended a veteran transition workshop. Right away I was moved to a new level of hope when I heard more about Travis Manion, his family and the foundation. I learned TMF is not just for veterans but is more about remembering the legacy of a man like Travis who sacrificed not just in the military but left an impression with classmates , friends, family and his community. He left a strong legacy, summarized in a powerful statement to his brother in law "if not me, than who" when it was his time to deploy again. I think of his story and instead of focusing on all that I don't have in life I wonder if I'm truly living to my full potential and giving back, as much as Travis and others like him. It is because of that I decided to volunteer with TMF and am blessed to have the opportunity to share why character does matter to teens, andto be part of something much bigger than myself. One person can make a difference and the Travis Manion Foundation is proof of that.
I have had the pleasure of being involved with the Travis Manion Foundation for several years and continue to be impressed by the impact that the TMF has in communities across the country. The idea of If not me, then who resonates at the most basic level and has become an inspiration not just for me personally, but for many in our community.
The most rewarding and definitely most memorable organization I have ever volunteered for. If you are questioning whether or not you should volunteer here, don't question it any further. Travis Manion is the greatest organization helping the greatest of people.