More than 55% of veterans say that they feel disconnected from civilian life. More than one in three young adults (16 million) have never had a positive role model or mentor. Our Character Does Matter Program is designed to address both of these major issues in our communities. We have already affected more than 300,000 youth since our inception - and we are just getting started.
Travis Manion Foundation is excited to announce that Under Armour has made a multi-year commitment to be the exclusive National Presenting Sponsor of Travis Manion Foundation’s Character Does Matter Program as well as our exclusive Athletic Apparel Sponsor. Our partnership will help us to continue to provide support for veterans and families of the fallen to develop and lead the next generation of leaders.
Character Does Matter provides the opportunity for veterans and families of fallen heroes to redefine their roles in the community and to teach character and leadership lessons to young adults through team-building exercises, discussions, and experiential learning challenges.
The relationship between TMF and Under Armour dates back to 2017, but with the growth of this partnership, Under Armour and its UA Freedom initiative will provide funding that will enable TMF to expand its services to even more veterans nationwide. As we accelerate this journey in strengthening and furthering this commitment we have made to the veteran community, we revisit two stories of Character Does Matter mentors who have been impacted by this program.
Earl Lundy had just 2 weeks left in his deployment when he found himself trapped under a collapsed building due to a nearby IED blast in Afghanistan in 2008. As he worked to make his way out from under the rubble, he clung to his faith as well as his trust in his fellow soldiers. He made it out alive; however, the toughest part of his journey still lay ahead of him back home.
Throughout his recovery, Earl’s prognosis ran the gamut—from never running or being active again to potential amputation. However, through courage, determination, and unyielding faith, he persevered. Earl is so proud to be physically recovered, mentally strong, and a fierce and inspiring mentor to others.
He now works as a fitness instructor in Houston, TX, and volunteers as a Veteran Mentor for TMF, where he mentors young adults on what it means to live a life of high character and to be of service in one’s own community. He encourages youth to push past self-perceived limitations to maximize their full potential. Earl credits TMF with arming him with the necessary skills and confidence to share his story. He believes that he can inspire youth to push through, despite challenging circumstances.
Theresa Jones’ husband, Lieutenant Commander Landon Jones, was on deployment in September of 2013 when his helicopter crashed in the Red Sea -- just a few weeks before he was scheduled to return home. Only a couple of months prior, Theresa and Landon’s second son, Hunter, was born but he would never have the chance to meet his father. Their oldest, Anthony, was only 6 years old at the time.
Theresa admits she lost her identity in the time after Landon’s death and struggled with how she could move forward. She was determined not to allow her family to take on a victim mentality, however, so she brought her sons with her to volunteer projects with TMF. Through TMF, Theresa and her boys were given countless opportunities to serve with veterans and other military families as a way to honor Landon’s legacy and keep his memory alive.
Theresa shares the story of her husband’s sacrifice as a mentor to youth in Coronado, CA and explains how she used that tragedy to find a new purpose. She motivates the next generation to find their own purpose by being part of something bigger than themselves.
Powered by Under Armour, Travis Manion Foundation’s Character Does Matter Program will expand the engagement for veterans and families of the fallen across the country. We plan to bring our message of service and the “If Not Me, Then Who…” ethos to more than 50,000 young adults each year. To see more of Earl Lundy and Theresa Jones’ stories and this partnership, see the UA Freedom article.