Operation: Key West started with the simple concept of helping our military soldiers. Everyone involved with Operation: Key West are forever grateful and appreciative of all the brave men and women who serve or have served in our nation's military. We will always strive to bring some joy and happiness to as many military families as we can. Most of our efforts are funded by our pharmacy savings card business, we would like to help more.
"We believe that together we can make a difference...Giving back through life-changing experiences." James R. McGonigle
James R, McGonigle, Founder and CEO of Help Soldiers, Inc., and Operation: Key West. For more click here Founder
How This Program Got Started - The idea originated on Christmas Day after returning home from Fort Belvoir where Help Soldiers sponsored a Christmas Dinner for those soldiers who were unable to go home for Christmas for whatever reason.
During this event, we were able to spend some quality time with Amy Altersitz, the USO individual in charge of events, and her combat veteran husband, Tom, who volunteers at the base. We heard part of their “story” which still remains with us. While Tom was serving in a combat area in Iraq several years ago, he learned that his 7 year old son had passed away. Hard to imagine the pain and helplessness being in a war half-way around the world and getting that crushing news!
We arranged to have lunch with Amy on our way home from Key West in February. We asked if she and her husband would allow us to “treat” them to a week in Key West. Her response was, and I quote, (a) “Are you serious?” (b) tears of joy/surprise and (c) “no one has ever done anything like that for us!” We took that as a “YES”!
"The military provides care for a sick child and their families until the child dies. The parents are then abandoned at a time when they need us most."
- Vice Admiral (Ret.) Harold M. Koenig, Former Surgeon General of the Navy
FOR MORE CLICK the link below to see a 4 minute video sponsored by 1776, the Northeast Corridor's largest network of entrepreneurial incubators.
My name is Taylor Roberts, I am a 20 year old pediatric oncology patient, trying to get through life while receiving treatment for various forms of cancer. I've had 3 diagnosis's over the years, first one being Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L.) in 2014, I was 13 then and my 8th year diagnosis anniversary was just last month, February 2021. My next diagnosis was Myelodysplastic Syndrome (M.D.S.) in 2018. Now my current diagnosis is Acute Myeloid Leukemia (A.M.L.). Initial diagnosis at age 13 ultimately meant I never had much of my own childhood it was always about getting my treatments and staying healthy. It also meant after my first diagnosis I was never able to experience traditional schooling, rather I was homeschooled and went to online high school from which I graduated in 2016. Two years later in 2018 I had my first bone marrow transplant at Duke University. Now in 2021, I'm getting ready for a 2nd transplant from Johns Hopkins which will hopefully happen this month or next month, February-March.
Through all of the experiences detailed above, Taylor has done his best to remain positive. He has never asked for anything but for his treatments to be successful. Through our relationship with Chris Brogan, a Child Life Specialist, Pediatric Ward, Portsmouth Naval Hospital, we have been able to get Taylor to supply us with a short list of things that would help him as he continues his fight. We are using the money we raised through our Operation: Key West to fill out Taylor's wish list.
1. A gaming laptop. I would really love to have this since I have to essentially stay home when I'm not in the hospital and gaming is one of my hobbies.
2. Noise canceling headphones. Being in a hospital for any amount of time isn't fun and it can get noisy a lot.
3. New phone case. I drop my phone a lot and my case shows it.
4. Gift cards to various places like Door Dash for food delivery in the hospital, the Navy Exchange, Khols or Walmart for clothes, and Wawa for gas.
Born: Nov 14, 1997 Died: Jan 2005
I found love, and married Amy in 1997. As a military BRAT, I always saw my future as a soldier. Enlisting in the Army a little over a year after high school was what I was always meant to do. Now with a new wife, a baby on the way and a bright future as a soldier we were ready to start our life together and we were looking forward to where that life would take us. For their full story click below.
Born: Nov 17, 2015 Died: April 2018
Revel was born on November 17, 2015 and at 14 months of age was diagnosed with Stage 4 MYCN+ neuroblastoma, a very rare type of cancerous tumor that almost always affects children. This dreadful disease took the life of Revel at the tender age of 4. or the rest of story. For their full story click below.
Son: Taylor Christian
Born: Nov 18, 2011 Died: May 1, 2018
Taylor was born on November 18, 2011 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, weighing 5 Ibs 5 oz and 18 inches long. He was the perfect little addition to Melissa and Roger's (Dada's) marriage. He grew rapidly, reaching milestones fairly early and slowly grew into a goofy, silly, fun and caring little boy. For their full story click below.
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