While a student at Pepperdine University in 2008, Ryan Sawtelle established there the Wave of Flags 9/11 memorial, consisting of 2,977 U.S. flags paying tribute to the fallen. Later that year, Ryan co-founded the Ride to the Flags motorcycle ride to raise funds for military causes.
In 2011, Ryan officially formed White Heart Foundation to improve the mental and physical health of post-9/11 veterans through eco-therapy and specialized medical care. The Foundation’s flagship mental health program, the Guardian Project, was launched in 2016 right here in Lander. Groups of veterans are taken on remote outdoor excursions that utilize nature and team-building exercises to help heal the mental wounds of our nation’s veterans. Guardian Project has grown to multiple excursions over multiple states. All of White Heart’s programs — Guardian Project, One Life, and Ride to the Flags — aim to bridge the gap between government support and the care our veterans deserve.
On Saturday, August 27th, the Foundation will again host “A Night with Our Military Heroes” at the Lander Community and Convention Center to raise funds for the Guardian Project. The event/fundraiser will welcome this year’s veterans to Fremont County to be treated to the comedy of Cam Bertrand, a finalist on America’s Got Talent. Ten program participants will be present, including EOD2 Jordan Stevenson who survived a gunshot wound to the head – and subsequent 25-foot fall off of a border wall – while in Afghanistan. Told by doctors that he would never walk again, Jordan is joining his fellow veterans not only as a participant, but also as a returning mentor.
Fremont County’s own Bryce Westlake will be the auctioneer of many great items up for auction, including a new Benelli Super Nova Black A0222000 shotgun (Donated by Mike Lewis), an 18″ plate of amethyst crystal from Brazil (Donated by Dr. Stan Grove), and new Level IIIA plates with DFNDR SPC Carrier (Donated by DFNDR Armor). More items are being added every week!