The following is first-hand account of a touching gift, given by Coastal South Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle Members, Anne Pearce Baroody, Jean Rentz and Walker Pearce, their families and their mother, Marnie Pearce, to Tidewater Charity Tournament Committee (TCTC) on behalf of one its charities, Folds of Honor, which serves wounded warriors and their families.
The gift was managed by TCTC’s Director Bill Pearson and Volunteer Billy Karl. Here is Bill’s story, no doubt felt by every volunteer who brings comfort to another and asks nothing for himself:
This June, I will be 67. For more than half my life I have been involved in some form of fundraising and charitable endeavors. If it were not for the charity of others in the early part of my life, this part of my life would be much different. Over the years, I have been inspired by the generosity of complete strangers who time and time again reach out to help others, most times someone whom they will never know and will never meet—just pure giving from the heart, caring and a genuine concern for others.
Following the examples of these wonderful human beings and out of need to pay forward the gifts that were extended to me, I see many more years of charity in my future. For as long as that time may be, I cannot imagine the convergence of events that I have experienced in the last five days ever happening again.
It began on a Friday afternoon, a phone call from a neighbor who is with the Red Cross, informing me of a family that was looking for a disabled military veteran who could use a motorized wheelchair and a van customized to accept the wheelchair and asking me if I could help find that someone. If I stopped my story right now, this alone would qualify as a once in a lifetime event, but it gets better.
My initial calls to some veteran support groups did not find anyone locally who fit the need and I decided to try again the next day, quit for the night and watch the evening news on TV. A segment on the national evening news was about the homecoming of Marine Cpl. Garrett Carnes, a 22-year-old from Mooresville, NC, who lost parts of both legs from an I.E.D. in Afghanistan in February 2012.
I sent the link to that segment to the donor family with a “What do you think?” message. By that Sunday, the message came back that the van and wheelchair were being donated to Cpl. Carnes. Tears of joy were everywhere. The timing of events overwhelmed us all. A call to Cpl. Garrett’s parents was first met with some understandable skepticism, “Was this some type of mean scam?” After a few more calls and sending pictures of the van and chair, they were overjoyed. Garrett’s reaction was “AWESOME.”
There were many caring people involved in this wonderful example of generosity and caring—starting with the donors, my neighbors and TCTC volunteers and a local auto service shop who gave the van a safety check, free tires and more to the local car wash who offered a free wash and wax. Later a service shop agreed to put the ramp in tip-top order.
This letter is not intended as a pat on the back to everyone involved—that was not their motivation. I write it only to remind us all of the power we have to improve the human condition of others and the joy that we get in giving. It’s my sincere hope that in telling this story the next True American Hero whose life is forever changed by an injury while serving our country will also feel the love of others as Garrett has.
As for those involved in this story, no matter what higher power you believe in, we all agree that this was meant to be, a true blessing.
On April 28 and 29, TCTC celebrated a fundraising event on Tidewater Golf Course, North Myrtle Beach, with the van proudly displayed along with lots of patriotic décor to raise even more funds for Folds of Honor. WMBF-TV sent a camera crew to interview Anne and Bill and to talk about this miracle of giving. U.S. Marine Cpl. Garrett Carnes will soon receive the van from TCTC. He is expected to be at Walter Reed Hospital for the next year and half, where he is to undergo more surgery and physical therapy to continue his recovery. On behalf of Marnie Pearce, TCTC made a major-gift donation in her name to the Clara Barton Society of the Coastal South Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross.