Giving Back


Joey pics II

Following the most impactful week of our entire lives, the next step is giving back. Without the donations or support of the community, this whole project would have been impossible. Giving back may not be as easy as it should be, considering the experience we had. However, we are going to give back in any way that we can. That starts with us sharing our story with you, and hopefully give an idea as to how amazing the trip you made possible really was.


We started off our presentations by first going to Ed’s church with the Mt. Bethel Presbyterian Congregation, where the prodigal children returned to their largest monetary and spiritual supporters. Stunned immediately upon entering the church once again, the dining area was decorated with a Paris design, with servers donning berets. We returned with as much love and appreciation as we saw from them when we first came to Mt. Bethel two months ago, and many people were eager to hear as to what we dragged Ed to do.

Joey pic III

The presentation was given, laughs were shared and I’m sure some tears were shed, yet cleaning up was probably just as meaningful. People swarmed us in thanks for giving this old guy the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream, and many people just felt obligated to tell us how proud they were of us for simply taking the initiative. I still do not know if they realize just how important they were for bringing him with us, or how thankful Ed is for what they did. Without them, who knows where that help would have come from.


Our biggest presentation was to happen at the Seymour Center, a building I have personally driven by practically every day that I have ever lived in Chapel Hill. I finally had the opportunity of stepping into the Seymour Center for the first time last Thursday, and I immediately regretted having not been there before.  We were set up in a very nice presentation room, with four to five seats set up in front of a stage lit up by several beaming, hot lights. Appetizers were set up and drinks were eventually served, and soon enough we began our presentation.


You can forget our long presentation of us kids talking about how much we will remember the trip for the rest of our lives, the best thing to listen to was Ed and Mark. They basically took everything that we hoped to say in an hour and shoved it into two, five minute speeches. What made our trip worthwhile was seeing the veterans experience the appreciation that the rest of the world has for them, and that was something we hoped to highlight. In attempt to give back to the supporters and donors that we had, we hoped to share the moments of sincerity that they experienced, because those moments are worth much more than any sum of money.


These guys deserve more than anything we can give them. If it weren’t for them, this trip actually wouldn’t have happened. We did not believe, at all, that anything we aspired to do was possible. That changed the first time we met up with Lee Heavlin and Post 9100.

photo 1

It felt like they were giving to us more than it was us giving back to them. They were marveled by our story, our presentation, our pictures and our video of Ed losing his head on a duck boat, yet of course Heavlin had something up his sleeve. He awarded us with certificates of appreciation, something that we never expected. We awarded Heavlin and Post 9100 with a small box, and miniature jars, of Omaha beach sand from Normandy. I hope that the sand stays with the Post as long as that certificate stays with me.


Who knows, really. We hope to be able to give back even more, and give more and more presentations. We certainly do hope to one day share our stories with UNC and our own schools, because one of our main goals was to show that the youth still does care. Hopefully our story will help people of not just our generation appreciate the veterans that surround us.

Who knows if we’ll ever be able to fully give back for that one week in France and Belgium, but we’ll try to.

Thanks again,


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