PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Veterans from Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach raised more than $850,000 in their 51-day journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
The four veterans who make up the Foar From Home team were praised for a valiant mission. K9s For Warriors hosted an event Friday morning to recognize them.
A.M. “Hupp” Huppman, Bill Cimino, Paul Lore and Cameron Hansen, each representing a different part of the military, rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from late November to earlier this month, bringing attention to veteran suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Thinking about what they are going through, and it makes what we did small in comparison to some of the things that a lot of guys are going through and girls are going through,” Cimino, a U.S. Army veteran, said.
Part of their journey was raising money for K9s For Warriors as it prepares to open a new training facility for dogs that will eventually be paired with veterans who need them.
“When you are not feeling up to par or like you really want to row, it’s like how dare you because when you think of this program and the dogs and who they are going to and what those people are going through,” said Hansen, a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Courageous, the name of the veterans’ boat used on their journey, is also going to be the name of one of the four kennels that will be at K9s For Warriors’ mega kettle facility that’s being built right now and is set to open in April.
K9 For Warriors CEO Rory Diamond said it’s necessary because of the demand.
“We have a four-year waitlist, but the mega kennel is going to help us be off that waitlist and bring it down,” Diamond said.
According to data from the Department of Veteran Affairs, in 2018, more than 17 veterans per day died by suicide.
“Until we can drive that number down to zero, there is never going to be enough that we can do,” said Huppman, a U.S. Navy veteran.
Lore, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said: “These are our sons, our daughters, these are our aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, that we are losing every day.”
Saving more lives is the hope.
Foar From Home’s ultimate goal is to raise $1.5 million.