Why We Started

Have you ever experienced a chain of events that seem too much of a coincidence? That is exactly what happened to my husband and yours truly during the Christmas season of 2018. 

It all began when we met 1st Sgt. Michael Lippencott on December 3rd at the office of the NMCRS (Navy Marine Corps Relief Society) at NAS (Naval Air Station) in Jacksonville, Florida. At the time, he was an active-duty member of the Marine Corps and a father of four going through divorce.

With the intention to alleviate his stress from the holiday shopping, we gave him the donations of our company staff. We chatted for over an hour and learned that 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

We also realized that the wounds of his sacrifice to defend our country’s freedom were not only the ones he bared on his body, but also the ones on his soul. Michael retired that following June after almost 23 years of service. 

One year later, on Christmas 2019, three more military veterans–two Navy and one Marine–who were going through emotional and financial hardship, landed at our doorstep. Once again we helped them to get jobs and with other financial assistance.

After these extraordinary events, my husband and I realized that God was giving us a mission. Therefore, we decided to incorporate The Zellner Foundation for Military Vets in January 2020. 

Initially we wanted to help veterans to find jobs, but the Covid-19 pandemic derailed our launching plans. By August 2020, when everything seemed dead in the water, we organized our first charity golf tournament. Against all odds, eighty players joined us on October 9th to celebrate our warriors at The Golf Club at South Hampton.

Among the attendees were more than twenty military veterans from different war eras, who gave us a new mission: to share the love of golf with veterans who are looking for a different outlet to deal with their combat disabilities or PTSD struggles.

Following the words of Arnold Palmer, The King: “Thank God for the game of golf“, we believe there is something very special about this game and its healing power. The combination of green fairways, fresh air, and good company seems to be a one-of-a-kind therapeutic with no side effects. 

If you would like to donate golf gear (iron sets, putters, or drivers) in good condition, please email zellnerfoundation@gmail.com 

If you prefer to make a monetary donation, click here.

Thank you,

Xiomara Spadafora

President and Grateful American

The Zellner Foundation for Military Vets is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

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