By John Mizerak –
At Mighty Oaks Foundation, we are often moved by the stories of redemption that our Warriors experience, but sometimes the heart-warming stories we experience go to an entirely different level.  As we just came out of a season of Hallmark Christmas movies, this story is one of those that could be made into a film.  Many people played role in making this amazing story into a reality…
The story starts with a generous donation given for our 8th Annual Warriors Gala held in Texas in November of 2018. Our FIRST family, Coast Guard Commander (Ret) Kay Hickman and Lt. Commander (Ret) Jay Hickman of Hickman Ranch, and Weatherby Golden’s, decided to donate a 4-year old, retired, female English Cream Retriever named Amber.  The Hickman’s enjoy breeding and raising intelligent, beautiful and healthy English Cream Golden Retrievers, which are imported from Europe and carry champion bloodlines.  They get very attached to their Goldens, as they live at their home as cherished family members, so donating the sweet and nurturing Amber was not an easy decision.
Kay Hickman explains, “Our Goldens have brought so much joy to our lives.  They are such amazing animals. There is nothing like the feeling of owning one of these special English Cream Golden Retrievers.”
Our second family, Van & Carla Blasingame, attended our 8th Annual Warriors Gala and bid on and won Amber. The bidding actually soared to $6,000 at the live auction event (allowing up to 3 veterans through a 2019 program). The Blasingame’s graciously decided to donate Amber to a veteran in need.
The blessings continued to unfold as Pat Mahon and Mighty Oaks Alumni & Marine Iraq Veteran, Jeremy Mahon, founders of the DAWG Foundation, graciously donated 3-weeks of extensive training for Amber, at a $1,500 value.  The DAWG Foundation was formed with the mission of providing companion canines for US military veterans (and select First Responders) battling PTSd.
At this point, it was time to find Amber a home.  Veterans David & Susie Tannery agreed to foster Amber.  She quickly gravitated to David, who is a 100% disabled Veteran/Cancer Survivor. It was immediately clear what was meant to be a short-term transition period, would quickly materialize into a full-time cherished family relationship, much like the Hickman’s had envisioned!
The Tannery’s are an amazing military couple who are also part of the Texas Team Foundation, who proudly partner and support Mighty Oaks.  The organization’s mission is to provide critical support to Naval Special Warfare (NSW / SEAL) Veterans, First Responders and their Families in Texas.
In the last year, a devastating hurricane destroyed and displaced thousands of homeowners in the Tannery’s Texas town and they stepped up to support their community and fellow veterans in the following ways:

  • Volunteered to demolish and rebuild nine houses in Meyerland/Bellaire including Susie’s Mom’s House that was completely flooded in Friendswood, TX. 
  • Susie collected funding for a grass roots Veteran run boat rescue organization. Dozens of David’s military friends communicated and organized over 300 rescues, including foot-truck-boat and private owned helicopter rescues. 
  • Susie collected and distributed over $10,000 private donated funds to those in rescue routes verifying receipts and expenditures, working two computers and two phones from home.

Chad Robichaux, founder of Mighty Oaks Foundation, was excited to see this one gift, that was graciously donated for our annual Warrior Gala, effect so many people with the positive theme of giving back and paying it forward.  Chad stated, “It’s truly a blessing to see so many wonderful people connected to our organization that have such amazing hearts to donate financially, their time and even dogs, that ultimately make such a positive and lasting impact on the Warriors that we all serve.  I want to also thank the Tannery family for their service to our Nation and let them know how excited I am for the addition to their family!”
The Tannery family has named this beautiful pup Barbara, after Barbara Bush. She’s currently paying us a visit at the Mighty Oaks Warrior Program alumni training facility. Here are a few new photos of Barbara before she left for her “bootcamp.”


Thank you to EVERYONE who made this amazing story a reality!

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