"When our men and women return from duty they have both physical and unseen wounds. I started "Hold My Hand" to raise money, housing resources and even emergency wheelchairs for our wounded and disabled veterans."
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (PRWEB) December 28, 2015
Highlighting the needs of our country's wounded and disabled veterans, Susan Porter (Oklahoma's Woman of Achievement) has won the 2016 National Woman of Achievement "Elite Division" for women over 40. Porter, also a finalist in the Oklahoma Governor's "Volunteer of the Year Award," competed in the Woman of Achievement Pageant on November 15, 2015 in Long Beach, California. The three-day event recognizes finalists throughout the United States for their contributions in the areas of: community service, fine arts or performance, continuing education and public speaking. National finalists attended workshops, networking events and competed for grants. Before taking home top honors in her age division, Porter completed a panel interview, presented an award-winning vocal performance with slide show of military heroes, as well as walking the runway in the traditional evening gown and fitness competitions. Her favorite part of the event, however, was the "Platform Competition" where she was able to field questions about her 501c3 organization entitled "Hold My Hand" for wounded and disabled veterans,
"My life changed in a big way on my birthday September 22, 2010. That was the day I learned my nephew Rusty Dunagan had encountered an IED in Afghanistan which left him as our nation's 23rd surviving triple amputee. My dad, who was also a veteran, died 11 days later. At that moment, I decided to do something positive for my nephew while honoring others in our military and the concept of "Hold My Hand" was born. My nephew would need a specialized wheelchair, a retrofitted home and even a custom vehicle in order to function in daily life as as a husband and father upon returning home. At our first event we raised over $60,000 to help with those needs. Requests from other veterans started coming in and I realized that many more were lacking the critical assistance and retrofits necessary to return to civilian life after injury. I have been fortunate to partner with "The Oklahoma Wounded Warrior and Disabled Veterans Support Team" and "The Gary Sinise Foundation" to meet these shortfalls. In the five years since I started "Hold My Hand" and through the generous donations of many, we have raised over $300,000 to accommodate 17 home modifications and 32 wheelchair ramps! We also provide Christmas food baskets to many of these same families."
"When I found the Woman of Achievement Pageant it seemed too good to be true! This is a pageant that focuses on platform and passion, talent and interview. As we age, we can carry all these experiences with us through life, but we don't have the audience in which to present them. Through the Woman of Achievement Organization, I was able to merge my love of music with the patriotic song I wrote, and my passion of serving disabled veterans. Outer beauty is not the most important thing, it is what you have...and what you are doing with it," said Porter immediately after the event.
"Woman of Achievement is open to women 26 - 39 years of age; and women who are over 40 are in the Elite Division. We are looking for women who are making a difference in their communities through self-improvement, education, speaking, writing, volunteering, becoming entrepreneurs, and/or starting non-profits aimed at improving our nation's quality of life," said Founder and CEO, Marlena Martin, at the national event.
Past and current corporate sponsors for the Woman of Achievement Community Service Grants have included: Union Bank-Century City, The Cure, Earth Friendly Products, Vegan Therapy and Professional Women United. For information on the Woman of Achievement Pageant, Speakers Series or Awards Show contact: info(at)womanofachievement.com.
To contact the "Hold My Hand" organization for wounded and disabled veterans, or for vocal and appearance information, Susan Porter may be reached at: http://www.rustyholdmyhand.com.