South Charlotte

Veteran gifted with $10,000 check

Vietnam War veteran Jorge Sanchez took center stage with his family at Elevation Church in Blakeney on Nov. 10, when American Warrior Initiative presented him with a $10,000 check to cover medical expenses and a trip to see his youngest son graduate from Air Force basic training.
Vietnam War veteran Jorge Sanchez took center stage with his family at Elevation Church in Blakeney on Nov. 10, when American Warrior Initiative presented him with a $10,000 check to cover medical expenses and a trip to see his youngest son graduate from Air Force basic training. American Warrior Initiative

Jorge Sanchez of Gold Hill said he received the gift of a lifetime when Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. of Blakeney surprised him with a $10,000 check the day before Veteran’s Day.

“In my life – you just don’t see people get rewarded like this and it really put a smile on my face and melted my heart,” he said.

Sanchez is a Vietnam Air Force veteran dealing with financial difficulties after having a stroke and several neck and back reconstructive surgeries. He couldn’t afford to pay for all his medical expenses as well as cover the cost of a trip to San Antonio, Texas, where his youngest son, Justin, graduated from Air Force basic training over Thanksgiving.

April Williamson, Sanchez’s daughter, was also unable to financially contribute to the trip, so she started a GoFundMe fundraiser in search of support last month. She said a series of people passed along fundraiser details when it reached Fairway, a company that was on a mission to make a difference for a local veteran.

When we heard Jorge’s story, we were inspired to find a way to help him.

Tom Tousignant, South Charlotte Fairway branch manager

“As a public school teacher and with my husband in public service, we couldn’t afford to fund this trip,” she said. “It was a blessing that Fairway and American Warrior Initiative took care of everything.”

Fairway, a national mortgage company, began supporting veterans all over the U.S. two years ago when Louisiana-based branch manager Louise Thaxton and decorated war veteran Sean Parnell co-founded the American Warrior Initiative (AWI). AWI provides Certified Military Residential Boot Camps to real estate investors – bringing awareness to challenges veterans faced when reintegrating into civilian life – and also coordinates ways to help veterans in need. These charitable efforts are funded by Fairway employees.

More than 300 area Realtors, 75 Fairway employees and Sanchez’s family and friends attended AWI’s giveaway event at Elevation Church in Blakeney on Tuesday, Nov. 10, where Sanchez was presented with the check and Navy veteran Lewis Hunt also received a donation to help pay for a service dog.

South Charlotte Fairway branch manager Tom Tousignant, a 22-year Air Force veteran himself, attended the event and expressed gratitude toward AWI.

“It was an incredible event and so rewarding to see how our company gives back in our community,” he said. “Fairway has always been dedicated to helping veterans and we were grateful for the opportunity to have hosted this event in Charlotte. When we heard Jorge’s story, we were inspired to find a way to help him.”

AWI not only covered the cost of the recent trip but personally arranged for Sanchez’s travel accommodations and is directly working with medical providers to cover some of his medical expenses.

Sanchez said it was most rewarding to be able to watch his son follow in his footsteps.

“As a parent, we lead and encourage, but I never pushed my son to join the military,” he said. “In life, we make our own choices and seeing him on that stage – I cried and wear that like a badge of honor.”

Sanchez felt Fairway and AWI’s monetary donation delivered more than financial freedom: it created lasting memories.

He said, “I had lots of quality time with my son … precious moments to cherish for years to come.”

Crystal O’Gorman is a freelance writer: crystalogormanwrites@gmail.com.

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