The One Armed Golfer

Written by Xiomara Spadafora, President and Co-Founder

As The Zellner Foundation for Military Vets continues its quest of helping veterans find jobs on the First Coast, we are also having a little bit of fun by incorporating our golf program Will of Iron.

Exclusive for disabled and PTSD diagnosed veterans, the Will of Iron Program provides them with golf gear, lessons, and playtime free of cost. Fresh air, green scenery, and good company are one of a kind therapeutic with no side effects.

One of the beneficiaries of this program is retired Navy corpsman Gabriel George. In 2009, “Gabe” was pronounced dead at the scene of a motorcycle accident. He was leaving a bible study when a reckless driver hit him.

Two months later, he had to accept the fate of a life with a Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, and losing his right arm.

A decade into recovery, facing adversity at every corner, Gabe developed his four words mantra: Vision – Discipline – Strength – Determination. This is the vehicle that keeps him rolling towards his most cherished goal: to compete at the Paralympic Games in archery.

Gabriel is known as The One Armed Archer. He is also a father, husband, avid diver, pickelballer, and cyclist. Most recently, he began golfing, and The Zellner Foundation for Military Vets is proud to sponsor his new journey as The One Armed Golfer.

Since the beginning of 2021, I have had the privilege to golf with Gabriel a couple of times. As an amateur golfer, I tend to criticize my game and think about quitting. However, watching Gabriel swing the club–with only one arm–taught me a valuable lesson: there are no excuses.

In his own words, “Life is for the living,” and Gabriel George embodies this statement fully. He is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of faith in God.

If you want to support our mission, please click here to donate.

Thankful

Written by Xiomara Spadafora, President and Co-Founder

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these immortal words: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

With this in mind, The Zellner Foundation for Military Vets is thankful because despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we were able to accomplish our goal: assisting veterans in seeking employment, as well as providing financial assistance for others less fortunate, on our first year of operations.

Thanks to our fund-raising effort during the 2020 Charity Golf Tournament, we were able to cover two months of past-due rent for Tony Rossin, Army Veteran, at the beginning of October.

We also had the opportunity to host a lunch for Veterans Day with an incredible group. The round of golf—on the same day as the 245th birthday of the United States Marine Corps—was organized by the Wounded Warrior Project and sponsored by The Golf Club at South Hampton.

During this event, my husband Jeff and I had the privilege of meeting Misty Taylor, twenty year Navy Veteran, who started playing golf as part of her PTSD therapy.

At the of our round, I asked her if she was interested in getting lessons. On November 16th, Misty had her first golf lesson with Rob Bannon—Army Veteran and owner of TPG Golf Performance Center—and her brand new set of clubs, also courtesy of The Zellner Foundation.

And the cherry to top this 2020 Thanksgiving week came Tuesday, November 24th, when we contributed with the down payment for the new car of Navy Veteran, Suzie DeLeon.

A couple of months ago, Suzie was victim of a reckless driver who caused a multiple car crash on I-95, early in the morning on her way to work. Suzie ended up in the ER and her vehicle was totaled.

2020 is a year that altered our lives in countless ways, for better or for worse. Nonetheless, at Zellner Foundation, hope has remained unwavering, and for that, we are immensely grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

If you want to support our mission, you can donate here.

Golf Tournament Success!

When we set out to plan our first golf outing, we hoped to rally 40 players. Nonetheless, exceeding our expectations, 80 players joined us regardless of a stormy forecast last Friday at South Hampton.

As we finished the check-in process, the rain stopped, and a bright sun welcomed the players to honor our veterans. These are some of the images captured by our volunteer photographers, Diana Blanco and Marshall Waters.

Thank you once again to our amazing sponsors: Zellner Insurance Agency, Guardian Fueling Technologies, Florida Family Insurance, Bank of England Mortgage, Secure SI, Emerald Homes, Bluestar Pet Hospital, Imperial PFS, James J McCall D.D.S. P.A., TPG Golf Performance, and The Golf Club at South Hampton.

See you next year!

2020 Charity Golf Tournament

Online registration is no longer available. If you want to join us, please arrive at The Golf Club at South Hampton at 12 p.m.

Covid-19 Disclaimer: Players and attendees acknowledge and agree to accept the sole responsibility of Covid-19 infection. We encourage social distancing and face coverings.

The Beginning

Before Thanksgiving 2018, Karalee Sievert, a Navy veteran and the Senior Personal Lines Agent at Zellner Insurance Agency, met Ramonia Diallo, a Combat Casualty Visiting Nurse who at the time worked for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) in Jacksonville.

Touched by the stories of veterans in hardship, Karalee shared the information with our company staff. Shortly after, we created a small fund-raiser to which all our employees contributed.

On December 3rd, my husband and CEO of Zellner Insurance, Jeff Spadafora, Karalee, and yours truly, Xiomara Spadafora, Vice President, had the privilege to meet 1st Sgt. Michael Lippencott, an active member of the Marine Corps who became the recipient of our Christmas donation.

Sgt. Lippencott is a father of four. He joined the Marine Corps in 1996 in Chantilly, VA, and since then, he had completed seven tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan for the operations Iraq Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn.

Michael Lippencott

Needless to say, the wounds of his sacrifice to defend our country’s freedom are not only the ones he bears on his body, but also the ones on his soul. Continue reading “The Beginning”