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All heroes on deck

Figawi Holidays for Heroes

Another participant last year was John Morley, a former naval search and rescue swimmer and explosive ordnance device specialist. During his fourth combat deployment in 2006, Morley was severely injured while disarming an improvised explosive device in Iraq. He lost his right hand and suffered serious burns over 40 percent of his body, enduring 11 surgeries over time and long hospitalizations. He received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his actions and injuries in Iraq.

Morley, who grew up north of Boston, had visited Nantucket as a child, but his experience 40 years later was “fantastic.”

“I was injured 10 years ago, and to have a group like Holidays for Heroes not forget about me and reach out with an invitation to sail in Figawi was very special,” Morley says. “I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect once on the island, but what will stick in my mind forever about the trip was how incredibly friendly and prideful everyone was. The Figawi organizers were incredible, but what really caught me off guard was how patriotic, hospitable and involved the entire island was—thinking about it now still puts a huge smile on my face. This is definitely an event that all wounded veterans should experience.”

Holidays for Heroes’ main fundraiser is the annual American Dream Gala, held each September at the Nantucket Boys and Girls Club. The evening includes a full-course dinner by Chef E.J. Harvey, owner of The SeaGrille Restaurant on Nantucket, guest speakers, inspirational presentations, and silent and live auctions.

The program is also supported through donations, but Crawford would like to take Holidays for Heroes to the next level.

“Our mission is to help veterans,” says Crawford, “and the inquiries for participation are growing every year.” Veterans can visit to find out more about what is offered. “We are building a corporate sponsorship program and hope to bring in a larger support base so we can help more of our nation’s heroes.”

Carol K. Dumas is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Harwich.

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