At a gala fundraiser, Wall Street shows that money isn’t its only concern but that it can show generosity and patriotism in helping the children of fallen soldiers and wounded warriors.
The Other Side of the Street by Frances McMorris
Lt. Col. Tim Karcher talked about fear last night, which this nation seems to have in so much abundance right now.
But for him, fear was more palpable over the last 15 months. He served three deployments to Iraq. Then, on June 28, 2009, a large explosion left Karcher, a battalion commander, without both his legs, fighting for his life and changing his future and his family’s forever. This husband and father of three girls went from a strapping 6’4”, 225 pounds to just over 100 pounds. His heroic struggle exemplified the mission of the charity, No Greater Sacrifice, which raised $1 million for the education of children of those soldiers injured or killed in the wars in Iraqi and Afghanistan. More than 650 people filled Gotham Hall in midtown Manhattan on Thursday, September 23.
The event, chaired by Robert McCann, the chief executive officer of Wealth Management Americas for UBS AG, offers support to children whose average age is seven-years-old. “Everyone needs heroes and these are ours,” McCann told a group of reporters before the evening got underway. “Too often I turn on the TV and on CNN and CNBC, I see too much criticism of Wall Street and the military.”
But last night showed another side of Wall Street. “This is the Wall Street that I know. This is the Wall Street that I’m incredibly proud of,” McCann told the audience.
Thursday night was the first time that No Greater Sacrifice or NGS held its fundraising dinner in New York City. The four-year-old organization held its previous galas in Washington, D.C.
The packed Manhattan event was also the first time that the group honored a non-military person and the award went to Laurence Fink, chairman and chief executive officer of BlackRock. The fundraising effort by the Wall Street community, Fink said, showed that “we’re not all fat cats; that we have compassion; that we care about this country.”
Another of last night’s honorees, Lt. Gen, John F. Mulholland, Jr., who is the commanding general of the Army’s special operations command, said he was “struck by the involvement of the private sector. This is not a common thing abroad. “Where the government leaves off, that’s where NGS and other organizations step in,” said NGS co-founder, Kirk Rostron. In the last two years, with the help of other charities, NGS has given out a half-dozen scholarships to 20 children.
John Brown, head of wealth management solutions at UBS, is also on the advisory board of NGS. “This is not a political issue,” he said. “It’s about the families.”
The night was about the families. Scott Wagoner, the father of SSGT Terry Daniel Wagoner spoke about his son who was killed by an improvised explosive device. With his late son’s daughter, Diana, at his side, Scott Wagoner thanked NGS for its support.
Trish Lawton, the widow of Capt. Garrett “Tubes” Lawton, recounted how she met her husband, who had earned degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering, when she was a flight attendant. Choking back tears at the memories, she talked about his heroism; how he was awarded a Bronze Star for running 100 meters under fire to save a colleague; how he earned two Purple Hearts. Three week after she sent him an email calling him her soul mate, he was killed in Northwestern Afghanistan, leaving behind his wife and two sons. But, NGS, she said, “has helped me know that I am not alone.”
Alesia Karcher also expressed her gratitude and her pride in her husband who has battled back from injury and illness for more than a year.
With one of his daughters standing by his side as he spoke from his wheelchair, Lt. Col. Karcher said that the battlefield is a place where people are forced to confront their fears. “In way, there’s just no hiding from that fear.” After being injured—a great fear of so may soldiers—another one confronted Karcher. “My family was my greatest concern when I was wounded.” During his struggle to recover, he wondered what would happen to his wife of 20 years, Alesia and his daughters if he died. But recover he did. “My wife and I are a team. I still see myself as the head of my family primarily because she lets me,” he quipped.
But he is grateful for No Greater Sacrifice because it lifts a huge burden off the shoulders of families of wounded or deceased soldiers.
Article originally published in On Wall Street magazine on September 24, 2010