Wounded warriors inspire many as special guests at Sky Ball X Event!

Semper Fi Fund was proud to partner recently with The Fort Worth Airpower Foundation as a beneficiary of the 10th Annual SkyBall X event held in Fort Worth, Texas.  Sky Ball X has raised more than $3.5 million dollars in recent years to help service members and their families.  Sky Ball guests enjoyed an Aviation Static Display, a rocket man demonstration,  Tun Tavern VIP lounge and even a special appearance by the Lt Dan Band!

Marine Staff Sgt John Jones

This year, the three day event honored those who have served in Iraq with a special salute to the United States Marine Corps and the 100th Anniversary of Marine Corps Aviation.  SkyBall X hosted many wounded warriors as special VIP guests and several of America’s 81 living recipients of the Medal of Honor were also in attendance. 

One special VIP guest was Marine Staff Sgt John Jones, a native of Texas and veteran of the war in Iraq.  Jones spoke on behalf of  the Semper Fi Fund, MCLEF and MCSF, sharing with participants how the needs of our injured service members are being met through these organizations.   Staff Sgt Jones, who was wounded while on deployment to Iraq, suffered multiple injuries including the loss of both legs above the knee.    Jones’ recovery serves as an inspiration to other injured service members traveling the long road toward healing.   We are honored to have had the privilege of assisting Staff Sgt Jones during his own recovery process.  

Another wounded warrior and VIP guest was Lucca,  an 8 year old Belgian Malinois military working dog, the Mascot for SkyBall X 2012.


Lucca Skyball X Mascot
Lucca ~ Sky Ball X ~ Mascot

This incredible canine is part of an elite corps of service dogs trained to sniff out ammunition, arms and explosives.  “During her time in Iraq and Afghanistan, she participated in more than 400 patrols with over 40 confirmed finds of explosives. The lives of Marines she saved can’t be counted.” officials said.

Lucca was injured last March by an improvised explosive device while in Afghanistan.  The injury led to the amputation of her left front leg and retirement from military service.  Though her military career is over Lucca has recovered and, according to her handler, she is “back to normal…she hasn’t skipped a beat.”  

Recently reunited with her original trainer, GySgt Christopher Willingham, Lucca will enjoy her retirement playing with his two children as a member of their family.  We wish Lucca a long and happy life, chasing balls and playing with her new family! 

Lucca arrives for SkyBall X
Lucca brings her favorite toy to Sky Ball X.

Even in retirement Lucca continues to serve.  As the Mascot for this year’s Skyball X event, Lucca attended area schools to inspire young people to give back and become a part of something greater than themselves.  She also continues to inspire injured service members who are facing the challenge of their own recovery process.  

Service dogs, like Lucca,  have long contributed not only to the safety of our military, but also to the recovery of our injured veterans.  

Many well trained and devoted canines are helping our severely injured heroes gain independence through the Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companion Program.

Wonka and Gabe
Canine companions foster independence.

This program provides grants which unite injured veterans with service dogs and also ensure the dogs are properly trained and continually cared for during the service member’s transition through rehabilitation and back to civilian life.

These amazing dogs provide our severely injured service members with a level of independence they would not otherwise enjoy.   Learn more about The Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companion Program and find out how “man’s best friend” is making a difference in the lives of our recovering heroes!

Do you have a canine companion?  We’d love to hear how your dog is making a difference!  Feel free to share in our comment section below.