People from different walks of life,geographic regions and generations have their own way of supporting the troops. For Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) Utah Chapter, the best way to give back to the men and women who bravely protect America is by teaming up with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).

Since October 2013, the chapter has worked with the WWP to reach the organization’s goal of providing aid to injured service members and their families and helping injured soldiers find the support they need—raising more than $16,000 for the cause in just a few short months.

The fundraising initiative originally started as a community service project launched through a Facebook campaign by ABC Utah’s Emerging Leaders group, but the desire to help soon spread to the entire ABC membership and beyond. By the end, the Emerging Leaders group raised $4,590—more than doubling its original $2,000 goal.

“Our staff and leadership believe community service is a platform for leadership within our community,” says ABC Utah Chapter President Chris Hipwell. “Our Emerging Leaders group is very civic-minded. They initiated various fundraising ideas within their own companies.”

In addition to implementing company matching programs, Lucas Manning of Elwood Staffing, Orem, Utah, raised $250 by selling WWP bracelets throughout his office.

The first major donation came from ABC member Georgia Nicholas and her husband Marc, whose daughter is a military veteran. With a cause so close to home, and a passion for the WWP, the Nicholas’ gave $4,000 to kick off the campaign.

ABC member companies were asked to appoint a person to “rally the troops,” as well as make an online donation through an ABC Utah-specific WWP website that allowed both member companies and non-members to contribute directly to the cause.

“Many of our members implement a community service project within their own companies during the holidays, so our intent was to do this as a collective community,” Hipwell says. “This is a small part that we as the private community can play to fill in the gaps left by federal funding that leaves our wounded soldiers without resources they desperately need.”  

Two months of fundraising led to the chapter’s annual Christmas party, where more than 300 attendees heard from Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Travis Vendela, a U.S. Army veteran and WWP alumnus. Vendela shared his story of losing both legs and suffering many other injuries when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle while on patrol in Afghanistan.

As Vendela wheeled his chair up a ramp and onto the stage, ABC members showed their appreciation for his service with a tearful standing ovation. The room was silent as Vendela spoke of his journey to get his life back and how he learned to be thankful and hopeful for his future. Everything happens for a reason, he said; he met his wife while going through rehabilitation and credits her with saving his life.

In addition to the WWP donation, the chapter gave Vendela and his family $1,000.

“The needs of our wounded veterans are so great that our ability to raise funds for them seems small compared to what they have sacrificed so that we are able to live the American life,” says Ron Hadley, chairman of the ABC Utah Chapter and sales manager of Staker Parson Companies, Ogden, Utah.  “Our ABC community was proud to support this very important program.” 


Donna Puglisi is public relations manager for Associated Builders and Contractors. For more information, email puglisi@abc.org or visit www.abc.org.