Have you ever experienced a chain of events that seems too much of a coincidence? It happened to my husband and me during the Christmas season of 2018.
First, we met 1st Sgt. Michael Lippencott on December 3rd at the NMCRS (Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society) office at 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 a divorce.
Intending to alleviate his stress from the holiday shopping, we gave him a monetary donation from our company staff. Then, we chatted for over an hour and learned that he joined the Marine Corps in 1996 in Chantilly, VA. He completed seven tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan operations in Iraq Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn.
We realized that day that the wounds of his sacrifice to defend our nation’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 going through hardship landed at our doorstep and my husband and I realized 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. So, 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, 2020, 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 told us what golf meant to them. And so, our new mission was born: Empowering disabled and PTSD-diagnosed military veterans to improve their mental health through the beautiful game of golf on Florida’s First Coast.
Following the words of The King Arnold Palmer: “Thank God for the game of golf,” we believe there is something exceptional about this game and its healing power of green fairways, fresh air, and good company. It is our one-of-a-kind therapeutic with no side effects.
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President and Co-Founder
The Zellner Foundation for Military Vets is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.