Our mission is to provide college scholarships and educational counseling to the children of military personnel killed in the line of duty. In 1989, five days before Christmas, Sergeant William Delaney Gibbs from the 7th Infantry Division was killed in action during Operation Just Cause in Panama, leaving behind a young wife and an unborn daughter.
Our Founder and President, David Kim, served with Sergeant Gibbs and was inspired by his sacrifice to establish Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation as a way to help Sgt. Gibb’s daughter and the thousands of children like her.
Mission: The mission of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is to provide college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. Our vision is that every such child can have a college education.
Operating as usual
For Michael, his father's service showcased what hard work and selflessness look like. "His service meant a lot to me. He dedicated 31 years of his life to protect this country and his family. He made a lot of sacrifices along the way, like being stationed away from his family in a different state for long periods of time, but he remained happy because he knew he was doing good work. That inspires me to follow a path of 'good work' and to have a selfless attitude for my family and country."
When Michael was 13 years old Lieutenant Colonel Holstine passed away due to a service-connected illness. "My advice would be to utilize the loved ones around you. Going through loss is different for everyone; however, one thing remains the same: the people who care about you. From my experience, the people who care about you will always be there for you and want to help you more than anything. So, make sure to utilize those people and don't push them away. Surrounding yourself with loved ones makes the pain of losing one loved one a little easier. Also, try not to compare yourself to others and how they dealt with grief. Some people are able to hold it in and just keep going, while others need me and require venting sessions. Do what is best for you, and keep fighting for a brighter tomorrow."
In addition to his goal of becoming an accountant, Michael would like to work at a job where they care not only about their employees, but also love their community. While his father was in the Army he started a real estate company that Michael would like to take over as well.
Michael Holstine is the son of U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel William Holstine and one of our Fallen Patriots scholars. Michael is a rising sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying Business and hopes to work as an accountant one day.
“The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation has given me the opportunity of a lifetime and have supported me in pursuing my dream of becoming an Electrical Engineer. I am sincerely thankful for their assistance, and I hope I have the means in the future to give back and help others who have lost a parent due to military service.” – Kurt S., Class of 2020 Graduate
Just like all college students, Fallen Patriots scholars experienced a turbulent spring semester and face an uncertain one this fall. Hear from Abigail, who not only is one of our scholars - she also interned with us this summer! "A big reason I didn't feel a larger sense of worry was Children of Fallen Patriots. Pretty much right after my classes got cancelled they reached out and asked if there was anything I needed and how I was doing."
One of Abigail's best memories with her father were their treasured bedtime stories. "My favorite memory with my dad is when he taught my sister and I how to read. After he got off work and my sister and I were in bed, he would come read to us every night. Eventually, my sister and I were the ones reading to him."
When Abigail was 5 years old, Lieutenant Commander Frank Wittwer passed away during a training accident. Abigail shared that, "People describe my dad as being friendly to everyone he met, super smart, and very humble. I’ve heard countless stories about how my dad would start conversations with strangers and then become great friends within minutes. He was also athletic; he loved to run and go fly fishing in his spare time."
At the UNG - University of North Georgia, Abigail is active in her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, and serves as the Vice President of Finance. "While it definitely has its challenges, this position has taught me so much about myself, my sorority, and how to handle finances."
Abigail chose to study accounting because she remembers the difficulty her mother faced with managing the family's finances after her dad passed away. "When my dad died, I was just 5 years old, so I don’t have a ton of memories of him and of the years after he passed away, but what I do remember is the stress that my mom felt. My dad handled the finances for my family and when he died, my mom didn’t know what to do. I decided that I didn’t want to feel that way when I grew up, so I majored in accounting. I ended up absolutely loving it and I hope that I can help women like my mom when I begin my career."
Fallen Patriots scholar Abigail Wittwer is the daughter of U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Frank Wittwer. Abigail is a rising junior at the University of North Georgia studying accounting and hoping to one day work in public accounting.
“Thank you so much for everything Children of Fallen Patriots did for me during my college career. Fallen Patriots was a huge blessing to me, and my family and I will continue to give back to this organization for years to come so that others can have the same experiences as me.” - Hannah V., Class of 2020 Graduate
Jonathan believes his father would be most proud of his academic pursuits. "Going to college was something he didn’t get the opportunity to finish. He died halfway through school to get his private pilot's license. He always wanted for us kids to have an education and more opportunities than he had."
Receiving a scholarship from Fallen Patriots has given Jonathan and his family peace of mind as he continues his computer science studies. "It has allowed me to go through college so far without needing to worry about debts for myself and for my mom. I have 4 siblings and the idea of the cost of college without this scholarship is a burden that you all are helping make easier."
For Jonathan, his father's service showed the meaning of sacrifice. "It means a lot to me that he served in not one branch but in two branches of the military. He loved his country and believed that the sacrifices he made being away from us were truly for a greater good. Our military family is still some of the strongest relationships that we have."
Staff Sergeant Mackey passed away in 2010, when Jonathan was just 9 years old. He remembers his father as a kind-hearted man who loved his family and his country; and that often, "when he came back home, the first thing he would do was wrestle with all 5 of us on the floor."
Computers served as an escape for Jonathan when his father passed away. "I was pushed towards trying a computer science class in high school. I enjoyed working with code and wanted to pursue it further."
Fallen Patriots scholar Jonathan Mackey is the son of Army Staff Sergeant Matthew Mackey. Jonathan is a rising sophomore at Southeastern Louisiana University studying Computer Science and hopes to work in computer coding.
“Thank you seems hardly adequate for the gratitude in our family’s hearts for this organization. It was my husband and my dream to provide the opportunity for our children to graduate from college without school loan debt. After his death on active duty, that promise seemed impossible to keep. With the support of Children of Fallen Patriots, my children have not only graduated college without debt, they have continued their education to graduate school. Brittany has earned her Master’s in social work and is working toward her doctorate. Brandon is now a Doctor of Dental Surgery. Blake has a degree in environmental science and continues his education and training. Brooklyn has her BS in Exercise Science and is applying to physician assistant school. Thank you for believing in the potential of these children of a fallen patriot and honoring his and their lives with your sacrifice of support and service.” – Connie P., Mother of Five Fallen Patriots Scholars
Kayla sees a scholarship from Fallen Patriots as so much more than financial help. "It has introduced me to an entirely new support system that I never thought I would have. It motivates me to work hard and finish school, and reminds me every day that my Dad’s life means something. I like to look at it as my Dad still being here for me and supporting me even after he is gone."
When Kayla was 19 years old, LTC Hawes passed away from a service-connected illness. "My Dad’s 24 years of service has made me so incredibly proud. I feel as if I am the daughter to a hero, and that I have big shoes to fill. Each and every day when I go to school, walk my dog, go to the store, vote, I remember I can do each of these things because of him. How cool is that?"
One of the reasons Kayla chose to pursue a degree in criminal justice was because of her dad's influence. "Criminal Justice was a major my dad chose for me growing up. I decided to pursue it because it is something that fascinates me, and I am a sponge when it comes to learning about Criminal Justice. It is also applicable to many fields. I pursued Special Education as a minor due to my brother’s diagnosis with OCD and Autism. The courses I took helped me further learn about him and his disorders, and I hope to apply this knowledge by volunteering with special needs children some day."
Kayla shared with us that she hopes to go on to graduate school to study Public Policy. "Due to the financial assistance I received from Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation and its donors, I am graduating with my Bachelors debt free. This allows me to continue my education to further benefit my future. After college, I hope to either work in the government or a non-profit organization to continue working with veterans and/or military dependents."
Fallen Patriots scholar Kayla Martin is the daughter of U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Michael Hawes. Kayla studied Criminal Justice with a Student Designed Minor in Special Education at the The University of Alabama. Join us in congratulating Kayla on graduating this month!
More than 40% of our surveyed Fallen Patriots scholars and their families have experienced additional or unforeseen expenses (such as travel, moving, loss of on-campus dining and housing) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the upcoming Fall semesters looking vastly different for students across the nation, help support our Fallen Patriots scholars today:
donate.fallenpatriots.org Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation
We are so proud of how our scholars have taken on the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 crisis. Thanks to a #NYNeighbor, we were able to provide grants to NY area students like Sara with some additional funds to get them through this time as they continue to push forward to their goals. Sara says, “Thank you so much for the money and for everything you guys have done and are doing! We are beyond blessed to have a wonderful foundation like you in our lives. We were so happy and grateful when we received the money you sent us. It will surely help us, especially now that school is starting up and I am about to enroll in Drivers Ed. You guys are so awesome, and we are beyond grateful for your kindness and your support!"
We are proud to announce that since 2002, Fallen Patriots has provided $40 million in scholarships and other assistance to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. We believe that one of the best ways we can honor our fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country is to invest in the future of those they loved most in the world – their children. A college education is the key to a bright future for any child and the generosity of our supporters is making those hopes and dreams come true. We are honored by the support of the thousands of individuals and companies who have answered this call. Not every patriot wears a uniform and we are deeply grateful to all those who are rendering this important service to our military and their families.
For the third year, Stater Bros. Charities partnered with Pepsi to contribute $50,000 to Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation! We are humbled and honored to be on the receiving end of such a generous gift from Stater Bros. Markets and Pepsi, and we thank them for their continued support of our scholars!
When Tiana was 17 years old, Air Force Master Sergeant Stephen Anthony passed away. Tiana's father heavily influenced her decision to pursue biomedical engineering, "My father has affected me immensely in my decision to continue my education, he worked numerous blue collar jobs, including serving as a mechanical engineer for the United States Air Force Reserve. He always had a knack for mechanics and I worked on cars with him often. He taught me to take advantage of every opportunity and encouraged me to pursue higher education. My mother is a Registered Nurse and encouraged me to study biology from a very young age - I specifically recall dissecting chipmunks in grade school. I like to think I’m a nice hybrid of both of my parents, the bio from my mother and the engineering from my father."
The Dr. Laura Designs Store is NOW OPEN to the public! 100% of proceeds from the Designs Store will be donated to Fallen Patriots to provide college scholarships to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. Do not miss your chance to purchase these amazing handcrafted glass art and jewelry pieces designed by Dr Laura herself. Shop now at family.drlaura.com/drlauradesigns. All Design Store purchases will receive a “What Would Dr. Laura Say?” bracelet.
We love hearing from our students - and sometimes we get notes that are just too good not to share! Here's one we received earlier this month.
"I wanted to send a note to all of you to express my humble gratitude for your contribution to my education. I have just graduated with degrees in Music Performance and Psychology from the University of Kansas and I would not have been able to accomplish this without your help. Earning a college degree was, in effect, my dad’s last practical wish for me. He understood from personal experience how life changing higher education can be, and he wanted me to be able to pursue the career I wanted without worrying about taking on debt or working during school...In spite of the chaotic times we are currently experiencing, I honestly feel optimistic about the future. It seems full of possibilities and opportunities I know I have the skills and confidence to take advantage of. I feel certain my dad would be pleased and proud to know I feel this way. Thank you again for your investment in me and please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist your organization in the future." - Elizabeth P., Fallen Patriots Scholar
Tiana remembers her father as a man who was stern, yet always ready to help others. "He never said no and I swear he spent more time working on our neighbor’s lawn mower than any rational human would before throwing it away."
Tiana chose to study biomedical engineering because of all the possibilities around fabricating artificial organs. "The use of polymers for biomaterials and their application in developing devices for a wide array of human ailments - from diabetes to cancer - is so exciting. I believe my future is very malleable and I have not yet been introduced to all of the topics in Biomedical Engineering (BME), but I currently hope to work for the VA developing artificial kidneys. I am a candidate for a BS in BME, but will be applying to an accelerated 5 year MS/BS program to graduate by 2023 with my Masters in BME."
Thank you to Fallen Patriots Board Member and CEO of AMB Sports + Entertainment Steve Cannon for hosting a virtual symposium yesterday for Fallen Patriots scholars! Our scholars learned about the sports industry, leadership, and gained valuable career advice. We are incredibly grateful for partners like the Atlanta Falcons and Steve Cannon for their continued support of military children and for finding ways to engage our scholars professionally amidst this global pandemic!
Thanks Southwest Airlines for the donation and support of our work!
Our mission is to provide college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.
We are dedicated to serving the families of service members from all branches of the armed forces who have died as a result of combat casualties, military training accidents, service related illnesses, suicide, as well as other duty-related deaths as ruled by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The vision of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is to ensure that every child of a fallen patriot receives all necessary college funding.
Learn more: www.fallenpatriots.org