The Folded Flag Foundation: Vegas nonprofit provides scholarship to families of the fallen
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - For many of us, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer but for some families it is a day filled with emotions. Gold Star families are families who have lost a loved one: a husband, a dad, a mom, a son, in service to our country. The Folded Flag Foundation, a Vegas based nonprofit organization founded by Vegas Golden Knights owner and Air Force Veteran Bill Foley, helps the loved one of those who have paid the ultimate price serving our country by awarding scholarships.
Wednesday, March 18, 2022, marked 10 years since Abby Knapp Morris of Las Vegas lost her husband Sgt. Mike Knapp and she went to Arlington National Cemetery to spend the day with him. She sat at his headstone and placed pictures against it.
“I am just trying to focus on all of the amazing time that Mike and I did have together,” Abby shared. Mike joined the army at 18 right out of high school and served in Kosovo and Iraq. Three months before being deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, his daughter Kinsley was born.
Six months later, Abby and Kinsley flew to Kansas City to meet family before a two-week family vacation to Orlando.
“Pulled up to my parents’ house and I saw one car in the cul-de-sac, and I saw the license plate and I just knew, and I ran in the house and they were there, and it is the two people you never want to see,” recalled Abby.
On what was supposed to be his last day in Afghanistan, the 28-year-old father was killed in an explosion.
“He was the only one out at the cannon that morning making sure everything was sighted when the explosion happened,” Abby explained. Enemy forces attacked his unit also killing Sgt. Jabraun Knox and three civilians.
Abby was now a single mom of a 9-month-old.
“That first year I was just a mess. I was just a disaster. I didn’t know what to do. I had a crying little baby and would just battle through the nights trying to figure out what was going to be next for me because Mike and I had our lives planned out together,” Abby said.
In the years that have passed, Abby has found an unexpected second family: other Gold Star wives and children. It is a community she never wanted to be a part of, but it now helps her thrive.
“Nobody else can bond with us like that. We just get to be real because sometimes we are just so upset and sometimes, we’ve just got all these things on our plate that we are trying to juggle,” Abby explained.
The Folded Flag Foundation based in Las Vegas aims to ease the struggles of Gold Star families.
“Last year alone we provided 678 scholarships totaling just over $3 million,” stated William Hamilton, Director of Development.
Twenty-four of those scholarships were awarded in Nevada including to Kinsley.
“Since kindergarten she has gone to Calvary Chapel and they have paid her full tuition. We don’t have to worry about that. They will cover her books and her uniforms, and it is just such a relief as a mom,” said Abby.
Children of servicemen and women killed in combat can have their college education paid for by the government, but the Folded Flag Foundation provides for much more.
“It can be any type of education, anything that is scholastically enriching. So if you want to go to space camp, we can do that, we just sent someone to space camp. If you want to go to vo-tech and be an HVAC person we will fund that,” Hamilton added.
Folded Flag hopes to provides a pathway to brighter future for kids like Kinsley who has grown up with only pictures of her father and his folded flag.
“I hear so many stories and it makes me very happy, and it also makes me sad because I miss him,” Kinsley said.
“When a family becomes a Gold Star family and they are handed their folded flag, that is the worst day in their life,” Hamilton contended.
Freedom is not free. The cost paid by those who have died in service and the families left behind.
“My heart hurts for all these families knowing they have gone through what I have gone through,” shared Abby while at Arlington.
“I keep hearing the 21-gun salute. I have actually heard it three times since I have been here this morning and every time my heart is just heavy with the memories,” Abby added.
“I am so thankful for every memory and every moment he gave us,” Abby said.
Folded Flag Foundation provides for its own administration costs, so every dollar donated goes back to a Gold Star family. You can learn more at foldedflagfoundation.org
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