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Newport Beach

Volume 5, Issue 55  |  July 10, 2020

Sunday Salute supported veterans with disabilities, raised $190,000+

Each year, Veterans Day celebrations honor the service and sacrifice of our military. This year, the community of Newport Beach celebrated with a special fundraiser to support wounded, injured and ill veterans on their journey to fulfilling civilian lives.

Dubbed the Sunday Salute, the event brought together military heroes and their supporters for a beautiful afternoon at the Balboa Bay Resort. Underwritten by generous sponsors Ruth and Roger MacFarlane and hosted by honorary committee members Chris and Steve Alessi, Jon and Melinda Muller, Stan and Mari Frome, Sue Mears, Linda Merrell, Roger Lockhart, and Kim and Jim Montgomery, the Sunday Salute was the first Orange County event to support the National Wounded Warrior Center (Center). A capital initiative of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES), the Center will provide comprehensive education, health and wellness, and therapeutic recreation programs for veterans and active duty service members with disabilities seeking support and direction in their civilian lives.

Sunday Salute supported veterans three people

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Photos by Dawn Orlow Townsend

(L-R) Debra Faris, Colonel Willy Buhl, USMC (Ret.) and Rene Nesselhauf

During the event, Colonel Willy Buhl, former commander of the Wounded Warrior Regiment battalions at Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune, highlighted the importance of opportunities that help disabled veterans discover new skills and passions. He introduced Captain Sarah Bettencourt, USMC retired, who spoke passionately of her seven-year struggle to find meaning and purpose in her life after losing her military career to a debilitating neurological disorder. Skiing and spending time with other veterans with disabilities while participating in DSES programs inspired her to establish a sled hockey team in San Diego, qualify for the Paralympics, and become a mother to two beautiful boys. She credits DSES’s therapeutic recreation camps with giving her new life. “Once built, the Center will help other veterans, like me, live their lives again,” Bettencourt said.

Sunday Salute supported veterans salute sign

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With the help of auctioneer Keith L. McLane, who led a raucous Make a Difference Paddle Raise, the Sunday Salute generated more than $190,000 for the National Wounded Warrior Center initiative. DSES has raised more than $9.7 million toward the creation of the Center in Mammoth Lakes and hopes to be ready for construction next year.

More information and opportunities to support the campaign for the National Wounded Warrior Center can be found at


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