When I think of the greatest love stories in history and literature, I think of these immortal lovers:
Cleopatra and Mark Antony.
Lancelot and Guinevere.
Tristan and Isolde.
Paris and Helena. ...
Orpheus and Eurydice.
Napoleon and Josephine.
Odysseus and Penelope.
and now - Rick and Jen.
I know that this article/BLOG will embarrass them but look at them. Sharing their first kiss, as husband and wife, on a glacier in Alaska. How romantic. And the romance is still strong.
Sometimes all it takes is for two people with similar dreams to meet, and the love story becomes immortal. Their love story involves how they came about saving the lives of the finest warriors in America.
Rick and Jen had big dreams. They centered around Alaska.
Rick came from New York to fly-fish in the rugged wilderness of Alaska. It was the only place he could practice and build his skills by living off the grid to test his true grit. A medical problem kept Rick from serving this great country he loved so much. He needed to serve – it was in his blood and heart—even his very soul. With all it had to offer, the great state of Alaska was a perfect match for Rick’s spirit of “never quit,” and his love for America’s beloved veterans. It would prove to be a win-win for everyone.
When he first came to Alaska, his heart was won by dogs – mushing dogs. He wanted to run the Iditarod with those canine warriors. The intensity and sacrifice it takes to do this help him to feel some of the extreme drive and fortitude he sees in our veterans. He built a team and never looked back. In 2004 he entered his first Iditarod and competed in 2006, '07, '08, '14, '15, and '18 Iditarods. No matter the adversities – financial or physical, Rick crossed the finish line of every race entered, except for 2016 when unavoidable circumstances caused him to scratch. He is training for the next run in 2021.
Rick’s dad was from first-generation Italian immigrants. The passion and handsome looks found in Italians are evidenced in Rick and the closeness of his family. Gratitude for America’s opportunities and hard work ethics were instilled into each of his siblings, and Rick pushes work-ethics to the brink every day. He never stops working or pushing through the pain. This is the kind of strength it takes to run in the Iditarod. It's the kind of valor respected by our veteran warriors.
Jen is the only one who can match his energy level and passion for our country. Jen grew up in Colorado. With a minister for her dad, her soul was given wings to soar the heavens. She loved to fly, especially helicopters. Of course, she joined the Air Force. Jen took the lessons of her religious upbringing to a greater height – “be a good person and work hard” was not lost. She is extraordinary in both.
Jen was born and raised in Western Colorado, on the edge of the majestic Rocky Mountains. She graduated from Colorado State University with an Electrical Engineering degree while simultaneously completing the Reserve Officer Training Corp program. Upon graduating, she was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and served for six years on active duty in Combat Search and Rescue units in both Las Vegas, Nevada, and Mildenhall, England. During that period, she deployed numerous times to Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, and eight other countries across Europe and the Middle East. Most recently to the Horn of Africa in 2015.
So, Rick and Jen met and fell in love. First sight. One day, after they both witnessed first-hand the long-term effects of war on our military men and women, they founded Battle Dawgs, a non-profit organization to raise awareness for worthy combat-injured veterans. They both say that their focus on life has changed for the better by working with these great Warriors. I think it just gave their amazing nature a place to flourish.
Greater writers than I would give anything to write the story of Rick and Jen and the Battle Dawgs, but I get to do it while hanging out with them at this wilderness camp – off the grid – experiencing a slice of heaven. I’m honored to be working with them while having a bird’s-eye view of the magic that takes place here. They’ve taught me that the true battle for a veteran begins when they get home, and Rick and Jen are committed to making Battle Dawgs Alaska their healing grounds. Battle Dawgs Headquarters is a healing place for everyone who comes here.
What greater love is there that transcends the love of a man and woman into the love for the ones who fought for our freedom? There is none. Rick and Jen will go down in history as another one of the greatest lovers ever to exist. This will happen as each life they save, tells their story.
BATTLE DAWGS CAMP TALKEETNA ALASKA
If you want to be involved, please go to the website www.BattleDawgs.org and DONATE whatever you can.
God Bless you and God Bless America.
BE WELL ~ BE SAFE ~ BE HAPPY
It's a Jungle Out There