Running to remember: Helping veterans find new mission

Boeing commits $8.4 million to veterans charities worldwide in 2021.


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

On Sept. 19, Emily Festa, Boeing Political Action Committee analyst, joined dozens of other runners at the 9/11 Heroes Run in Annapolis, Maryland, with one shared purpose: honor and remember the sacrifices of the heroes of the Sept. 11 attacks and the wars that followed.

“Running alongside veterans, their families, Travis Manion supporters, and other community members was my favorite part,” Festa said. “The energy and love that filled the course made the experience one I will never forget.”

The event began as a short memorial run to honor Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2007 while trying to save several wounded fellow Marines and Iraqi army counterparts. Now, Travis Manion Foundation, one of Boeing’s veteran service organization partners, hosts 9/11 runs in cities worldwide, both to honor and celebrate the courage and bravery of those who have served, and to thank first responders and military service members. 

Boeing employees Sophia Huq (left) and Emily Festa (right) participate in the 9/11 Heroes Run on Sept. 19 in Annapolis, Maryland. 

“I believe it’s important to honor our service members and the sacrifices they have made for our country. Travis Manion is an incredible organization,” said Festa, who is also a member of the Boeing Veteran Engagement Team (BVET) business resource group.

Travis Manion Foundation and other Boeing community partners Adaptive Training Foundation and The Mission Continues are featured in Boeing’s latest Veterans Day campaign, “Our Duty Is To You,” which highlights the incredible work Boeing partners are doing to empower the veteran community. Watch one of the TV ads below: 

“Our programs do not exist if we do not have veterans leading them. And that is important to us to flip the narrative on what a veteran service organization means," said Ryan Manion, Travis Manion Foundation president. “We’re not a charity for veterans. Travis Manion Foundation is a community. We want to bring together individuals across the country to step up and to serve — all being led by veterans and families of the fallen.”

Festa said: “I am proud to work for a company that supports our nation’s veterans. Many of our veterans have been mentors to me, and I wouldn’t be who I am without their support.”

As co-chair of the Potomac Region Employee Volunteer Council, Festa has also participated in many other veteran-focused volunteer opportunities with Boeing community partners.

“Being able to interact with veterans and their families really puts into perspective for me the importance of giving back and supporting our veterans community,” she said. “There are so many ways you can get involved.” 

One of the many ways Boeing employees can get involved this month is by participating in Boeing Global Engagement’s featured veterans volunteer activity — making paracord bracelets that will be included in care packages created by Operation Gratitude. 

  • Operation Gratitude: Operation Gratitude is one of the nation’s largest nonprofits in the U.S., offering hands-on volunteer opportunities in support of military, veterans and first responders.
    • How to help: Join Boeing employees across the U.S. in making paracord bracelets for troops at home and abroad. This activity is family-friendly, and one bracelet takes only 10 minutes to make. Sign up here to have a paracord kit sent to your home. The kit will include return postage so you can send your completed items back to Operation Gratitude once they are completed.
    • Why it matters: Paracord bracelets are a survival tool. They get their name from “parachute cord” and can hold up to 550 pounds (249 kilograms). The bracelet provides 7.5 feet (2.28 meters) of cord in an emergency and can be used to secure camouflage nets to trees or vehicles, build a makeshift shelter, help haul heavy objects, make a sling or splint and more. Paracord bracelets are included in every Operation Gratitude care package.

Boeing Global Engagement offers volunteer activities throughout the year via Boeing’s employee community engagement portal, YourCause

In observance of Veterans Day, BVET hosted the first annual Veterans Summit Nov. 9 and 10 to help employees learn more about the Boeing veteran community, military families and how to get involved. A recording of the event can be viewed here.

Read more about Boeing’s commitment to veterans in this Axios article featuring Jason Pak, director of veterans outreach for Boeing Global Engagement.

By Rachel Ayres