Local college football lettermen recognize veterans


Photo: Former Etowah High and University of Alabama standout lineman and LETTERMEN of USA member David Gilmer (right) presents an autographed Kyle Whittingham University of Utah football to Vietnam War veteran and U.S. Army Captain Michael Mendell during the recent Semper-Fi Community Task Force/Heroes Week luncheon in Huntsville.
Lettermen of the USA, a non-profit organization made up of former lettermen and coaches from colleges and universities across America, recently participated in the Semper Fi Task Force of North Alabama’s 11th Annual Heroes Week in Huntsville. The event honored wounded veterans from across the nation along with their families and caregivers. This year, 30 footballs were given out to veterans. The donating schools included UAB, Notre Dame, Oregon, Southern California, Tennessee, Utah, Georgia, Alabama, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Washington, Auburn, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Kentucky.
“I’m privileged to be a part of the Lettermen of the USA,” said David Gilmer, a former standout football player at Etowah High School and the University of Alabama. “I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the finest men and women ever to serve the United States of America. It is one of the most awesome feelings ever when you’re able to be a small part of these great heroes’ lives.”
Lettermen of the USA Executive Director Darryl Fuhrman is a Southside High graduate who lettered in football at Alabama.
“We could not have done this momentous event without the help of coaches, military personnel, former football players and the huge number of volunteers that gave their time,” he said. “It is with my profound gratitude that I thank all involved in the event from last weekend.”
The idea of the Lettermen of the USA began after the 2011 tornado devastated Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. To raise money for the relief effort, a flag football Iron Bowl game between former Alabama and Auburn players was organized and played at Spain Park High School in Hoover. The organization then expanded to include other former athletes outside of the Alabama and Auburn families. Lettermen of the USA continues to seek support for veteran service initiatives. The organization has little administrative cost and nearly all funds raised to go to the direct benefit of the veterans served. Members of this organization are 100 percent volunteers of their time and resources in order to serve those who have served us all.
The Semper Fi Community Task Force is an all-service, all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit, veterans support organization whose mission is to apply through volunteerism the values of honor, courage and commitment and skills learned in military service to the nation to community service in the Tennessee Valley. The task force continues to focus on service areas such as veterans and youth outreach, community support and gold star racing, as well as its two signature events of Heroes Week and Heroes Outdoor Adventures.
Anyone interested to become involved in future veteran support programs with the Lettermen of the USA may contact Darryl Fuhrman at LETTERMENofUSA@gmail.com. Your impact will be felt in the hearts of these wounded veterans for years to come.
Submitted by Darryl Fuhrman

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