News: Semper Fi Fund founder nominated for award
Story by Lance Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. - The Military Spouse of the Year nominations are in, and one nomination stands out among the rest.
Karen Guenther, founder and president of the Semper Fi Fund, was nominated for the 2011 Military Spouse of the Year award by Joshua Bliell, a Marine injured in Fallujah in 2006.
Bliell, now a community spokesperson for the Indianapolis Colts, lost both of his legs in Fallujah, credits Guenther with saving his life while he was in the hospital and calls her his guardian angel.
“Every part of my life, she’s been there getting me back on my feet,” said Bliell.
When Guenther got wind of the young Marine returning to Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., she bought tickets through the Semper Fi Fund for his family to meet him at the airport and arranged transportation and lodging for his family for the duration of his hospital stay.
The Semper Fi Fund also purchased a special handicap-accessible car for Bliell and $50,000 for home modifications.
“It’s not a one-time assistance. We become part of the family. I feel like the richest woman on earth because of the relationships we’ve built,” said Guenther.
Guenther, a Marine wife, founded the Semper Fi Fund in 2004, which has raised and distributed more the $42 million to service members and their families.
Bliell was proud to nominate Guenther for the award, but stressed the importance of recognizing all military spouses.
“She’s done a ton, but there are a lot of [spouses] out there who support us. I’m thankful for all military spouses,” said Bliell.
This is the fourth year Military Spouse magazine has held nominations for Military Spouse of the Year.
In January, magazine officials will announce the winners from each branch of service. In May, officials will announce the overall winner, who will go on to represent the community of more than 1.1 million current military spouses at media appearances, as well as write a monthly column for Military Spouse magazine and a blog for the Military Spouse website.
“I cried when I read [the nomination]. The letter was the best part of the nomination,” said Guenther. “This award is highlighting some very special people, whether they get the award or not. The nominations help get their stories out there.”
Guenther is currently visiting military hospitals to spend time with wounded service members over the holidays, continuing the service that led to her nomination for Military Spouse of the Year.