Gary Littrell, Medal of Honor Recipient, Chairman
I am proud to serve as Chairman along with fellow Medal of Honor Recipient Mike Thornton for the upcoming Tribute to Valor Weekend 11-13 October 2018 in the DFW area. The weekend will include the Boots and Bandanas Celebration held at the Cendera Event Center in Fort Worth on the evening of Friday, 12 October. The celebration will feature great food and entertainment, and an inspirational program to thank and honor our nation’s Gold Star families. Proceeds from the event will benefit children and spouses of fallen military service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice since 9-11.
We are proud to partner with the America’s Future Series to host a special luncheon at the Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel the afternoon of Saturday, 13 October to recognize leaders in the community who have gone above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of America’s military service members, veterans, and their families. Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit the Medal of Honor Society and Foundation Character Development Program which teaches students the importance of citizenship through the values reflected by the Medal of Honor.
The weekend culminates the evening of Saturday, 13 October with the Medal of Honor Bob Hope Patriot Award Gala held at the Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel. Join many of my fellow Medal of Honor Recipients and special guests as we present the Bob Hope Award to Captain Dale Dye USMC (ret) for his excellence in support of those who serve through his extensive work in the entertainment industry as an actor, writer, author, and producer. The Bob Hope Gala will also feature entertainment by legendary entertainer and great American patriot Lee Greenwood and will also feature the incredible Michael Hix and America’s Tenor Steve Amerson.
I am extremely excited that the Gala will also showcase the donation of an iBOT mobility device to a very deserving veteran as we connect the ideals of the Medal for Honor Character Development Program to inspire young people with opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
This year’s Bob Hope Gala promises to be the best yet! Proceeds will benefit the Medal of Honor Character Development Program. Post gala we will invite you to join us for a spectacular after party at the hotel.
Mike Thornton, Medal of Honor Recipient, Co-Chair
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while participating in a daring operation against an enemy-occupied naval river base…
Mike Thornton enlisted in the United States Navy in 1967. He entered basic training at the Naval Training Center, San Diego, California. Mike was selected for specialized training Basic Underwater Demolition in Coronado, CA and the Navy’s elite SEAL community. He was assigned to SEAL team One from 1968-1974, during this period from 1968 -1973, Mike completed several tours of duty in the Republic of Vietnam and Thailand. He was the recipient of numerous awards, the most prestigious decoration was bestowed for the heroic actions on his last tour of duty in Vietnam which resulted in saving the life of a fellow SEAL. For this action during a reconnaissance and intelligence gathering mission, Mike received this Nation’s highest award: Congressional Medal of Honor. From 1974-1977, he served as an instructor at the SEAL training command in Coronado, 1977 he transferred to SEAL 2, 1978 he deployed to the United Kingdom to serve with the Royal British Special Boat Squadron…he return to help establish and operate with SEAL team Six. In June of 1982, Lieutenant Thornton received his commission as U.S. Navy Ensign, after completing training 1986 he went on to the USS Edenton as Diving/Salvage Officer for Combat Support Squadron Eight. In 1990 he reported as Bravo Company Commander in Desert Shield /Desert Storm. In May of 1992, Lt. Thornton retired from Active Duty from the Navy.
Captain Jim Palmersheim is a veteran of the United States Army, in 1990 Jim left active duty for a position as a pilot for American Airlines. In 2006 Jim created and implemented the American Airlines MIlitary and Veterans Initiatives Program and managed the program through July of 2018, returning to full time flying 1 August. Jim currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Gary Sinise Foundation and is a 2018 Recipient of the Medal of Honor Society Patriot Award, the highest award presented by the Society to an individual who through their life’s work, have distinguished themselves as Americans dedicated to freedom and the ideals represented by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Prior to Snowball Express becoming a program of the Gary Sinise Foundation, Jim was the longest serving Board Member for Snowball Express, from 2007 through 2017. Jim is also the 2018 Recipient of the LTC James “Maggie” Magelles award, the Army Aviation Association “Order of St Michael”, the 2016 Presidents Award from LULAC and the Tony Orlando “Yellow Ribbon of Freedom Award”. Jim served as Honorary Commander of the 457th Fighter Squadron at NAS JRB Fort Worth and is also an Honorary Night Stalker with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
Jim Thomason is a Vietnam Veteran having served in the 1st Cavalry Division as a helicopter gunship pilot. He served in the 300th Aviation Reserve Unit for 11 years after discharge from active duty. Jim is now an active member of the Ft Worth AirPower Council and Chairman of the Military Committee at the Professional Golf Tournament held in Ft Worth, Tx, at Colonial Country Club. Jim is a proud sponsor of the Medal of Honor Foundation and is a big believer in their mission of Character Development for the youth of America.
Gary Lawson is a Dallas, Texas lawyer who regularly represents clients in buying and selling businesses and solving employment-related, trademark and other disputes.
While Gary is the author of numerous law articles and was victorious in two lawsuits in the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court, aside from his family, he is proudest of his decade-long service to our military and veteran community.
Having served on the boards of nonprofits like Medisend International, the second longest serving board member and two-time Chairman of Snowball Express, FIRST In Texas, Gary Lawson in 2008 founded and still serves as Chairman/President of Independence Corps Foundation, providing high-tech mobility devices like the iBOT, Luke Arm, Levo, X-8 Mobility and Track-Chairs to wounded veterans. http://www.independencecorps.org.
In recognition of his long service to military families and veterans, in 2013 the Secretary of the Army designated Gary an honorary member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the “Nightstalkers”.
Brian Collins started Cendera Funding out of his living room shortly after graduating from Abilene Christian University. Driven by his desire to keep lending at a community level, Brian has successfully grown Cendera into one of the preeminent lenders in Texas and Colorado. With his acquisition of Cendera Bank in 2011 Cendera expanded its offerings into a full array of commercial and personal banking services.
Community involvement has played a pivotal to Cendera’s success as a company, having previously sponsored events for Habitat for Humanity, JDRF, and the American Cancer Society. As a company based in an area with a significant presence of both Active Duty military and veterans, it’s a privilege to play such a meaningful role in Weekend of Valor.
Brian was named one of Fort Worth Business’ 40 Under 40 and previously served on the Board of Directors for the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association. He lives on the outskirts of Fort Worth and Aledo with his three boys (Dreyton, Carson, and Britton) and wife Gina.
Jeremy Berlin is a prominent executive within the DFW Hospitality industry. After attending Mercyhurst University, Jeremy went on to work in the insurance and financial industries before moving into hospitality.
Jeremy has had the privilege of running hotels across the country for all major brands, in 2015 Jeremy was nominated as Chief Sales Officer of the year for Starwood Hotels.
In 2010, Jeremy and his wife Heidi settled in Fort Worth, Texas with their three children London, Illiah, and Riley.
Since 2013 Jeremy has passionately connected the hospitality industry and others with numerous Veterans initiatives to increase awareness and funding for our Military. While Jeremy never had the privilege to serve in the Armed Forces he considers this his opportunity to serve those who answered the call.
Kelly Massey, a 25-year veteran of the corporate meetings and events industry, is Managing Partner of DFW-based Grit Productions and Expositions. Kelly understands all sides of the business as he began his career with a special events company, worked for a national trade show contractor, managed the US division of a global experiential marketing agency and now as the leader of a growing production and expo company. He has made a name for himself as a hands-on business owner working with clients from concept through completion to ensure the highest level of production value no matter scope or size of event.
Tom Fireoved started his career in sports at Zucker Sports Group in Chicago, providing PR and marketing to the agency’s professional NFL and NBA athletes. In May of 1993 he moved south when he was hired as one of the first employees of the Dallas Stars Hockey Club after its relocation from Minnesota. Helping hockey get its foothold in the Lone Star State over 14 years, the last four serving as Executive Vice President of Corporate Sales, he was responsible for all team sponsorship sales. For three of those years he simultaneously wore a similar hat with the Texas Rangers Baseball Club as Assistant Vice President of Sponsorships when the front offices of the two teams were merged. Tom left the team side of sports in 2007 when he founded Franchise Sports & Entertainment, an agency representing professional athletes in all aspects of marketing opportunities, and consulting services to various teams and sporting/charitable events. In 2009 he founded ScoreBoard Magazine, a regional sports and lifestyle publication, then early last year Tom and his partners created Mint Farm Films, a production company dedicated to the creation and distribution of original sports documentaries and programing. Fireoved served on the board of directors of the Dallas Stars Foundation and is currently Vice President of the Mike Modano Foundation and on the advisory board of the National Basketball Retired Players Association.
Robert Irvine is an award-winning chef, fitness authority and philanthropist best known for his long-running Food Network shows Dinner: Impossible and Restaurant: Impossible. A sought-after TV chef, Irvine has also appeared on Worst Cooks in America, Next Iron Chef and Chopped: Impossible, to name a few.
Irvine is the author of Impossible to Easy and Mission: Cook, gourmet cookbooks for home chefs, and Fit Fuel, featuring whole-food recipes, motivational tips, and workout advice. An authority on health and fitness, Irvine was named one of Men’s Fitness’ ‘25 Fittest Guys in America’, penned a monthly recipe column in Muscle & Fitness and hosts a video recipe series on BodyBuilding.com. In 2013, Irvine launched FitCrunch protein bars, brownies, and powders sold in convenience stores and major retailers worldwide.
A tireless advocate of the military, Irvine established The Robert Irvine Foundation in 2014 to support veterans and military causes. Irvine often attends troop rallies lead by the Gary Sinise Foundation and tours regularly with the United Service Organizations. In 2016, Irvine launched Robert Irvine Magazine, a free digital magazine featuring healthy recipes, fitness advice, and motivation for overall success.
Continuing his military support, Irvine is the first celebrity chef to open a restaurant, Robert Irvine’s Fresh Kitchen, at the Pentagon in 2016. In 2017, Irvine opened a Gold’s Gym franchise in Largo, Florida and Robert Irvine’s Public House—offering elevated pub fare—at the Tropicana Las Vegas. Also in 2017, Irvine teamed with Boardroom Spirits as co-owner to provide ‘better for you’ spirits.
Irvine has earned several top awards and honors including US Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award, US Navy Honorary Chief Petty Officer, and both the Culinary Excellence Award and Ambassador honor from the Culinary Institute of America.
Connie S. Boucher
Connie Boucher is the Vice President/Executive Director of the Michael E. Thornton Foundation, (METFUND). She spent 2 years as the Event Chair for the CMOH Bob Hope Award Gala, and 12 years as the Event Chair for CMOH Patriot Award Gala, and is very excited to be back as the 2018 Bob Hope Gala Event Chair…Ms. Boucher is the Past President of Booker T. Washington’s High School for Visual and Performing Arts Dance Guild. She is the Past Board member for Lattimore Properties, INC. and Lattimore Materials Company, as well as a Past Board member of Son’s of Flag and Holy Family School. Ms. Boucher is also a lifetime member of Safari International, Dallas Safari Club, and an Advisory Board member of Duskin Stephens Foundation.
For the past 28 years Connie and her husband Paul have called Dallas home with their daughter, Torrey, who has just graduated from the University of Texas in Austin, “Hook Em”.
Larry Stuart is a Senior Vice President with Payment Brokers Group, (PBG), the official credit card processor and sponsor of the Cendera Tribute to Valor. PBG is committed to offering business owners a unique, no-cost opportunity to financially support organizations like Snowball Express, The Gary Sinise Foundation, Medal of Honor Foundation and the Character Development for the youth of America.
EXECUTIVE PLANNING COMMITTEE
Steven D. Pidgeon is Chief Executive Officer of Star Companies.
Star is involved in the ownership and management of various
retail and commercial operations throughout the United States.
Star expects to generate volume more than $100 million dollars-
being ranked among the top firms in its industry.
Steven has been very active in the home furnishings industry,
serving as a director of many industry boards and associated with
many industry seminars.
Over the last 39 years, Steven has developed an in-depth
knowledge of the retail floor covering industry by working as a
salesperson, store manager, buyer, and Vice–President of
Merchandise and Operations, before becoming President and CEO.
Steven has been involved in the Floor Covering industry since
1978. He was a distinguished member of the Lees’ Carpet Retail
advisory board for 4 years.
Steven was the Retail Representative for Dupont Chemical Company
(Vanguard Division). This division’s primary responsibility was
the introduction of “Dupont Stainmaster” to consumers. Today, a
flooring brand name known throughout the world.
Steven developed Floor Covering procedures used by many companies
He has researched and implemented the development of many new
markets for his companies since 1980. He has attended over 200
buying markets throughout the world. Based on his company’s
outstanding sales and growth performance, he was named as one of
the top 25 Home Furnishings retailers in the United States out of
17,000 Home Furnishings retailers by Professional Furniture
Merchants magazine. Steven also received the University of Texas
Organizational Management Special Project Award.
His professional and civic affiliations include serving on the
board of directors of both the National Home Furnishings
Association, and the International Home Furnishings Association,
the board of retailers of the Dallas Market Center, membership in
the Arizona and Lone Star Chapters of Young Presidents
Organization and World Presidents Organization, as well as many
others. Steven is a registered Interior Designer with the Texas
Board of Architectural Examiners.
In 1980, Steven earned marketing and management degrees from the
University of Texas at Austin. He also attended the University of
Steven resides in Dallas, Texas with his wife, Dr. Leslie
Pidgeon, and 2 daughters, Bayla and Cyra.
Bruce & Judy Horne
Bruce and Judy Horne
Judy Horne, a Fort Worth native, began volunteering for American Airlines sponsored fundraising events in 2008 and as a member of American’s Specialty Sales team liaisoned with Military/Veterans Initiatives to draw on company resources in order to explore new avenues for increasing support for the program. In 2010, she joined several of the Military/Veterans Initiatives event planning committees and played a pivotal role in the successful execution of events that positively impacted the lives of thousands of our military members, veterans, and their families. In recognition of her years of voluntary service, the American Airlines Sales Department presented Judy with the Spirit of American Award at the 2015 Global Sales Conference in Miami, Florida. She continues to volunteer her time and energy as a member of the Executive Planning Committee for this year’s Tribute to Valor.
Bruce Horne is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a veteran of Desert Shield/Storm. He served as a member of the March Air Force Base Honor Guard from 1991 through 1993 and began volunteering for American Airlines sponsored fundraising events with his wife in 2008. Since then he has played an integral role in the execution of several events benefiting our military members, veterans, and
their families. Acting as an assistant coordinator of sorts, Bruce has usually been called upon to deal with last-minute logistical requests. Most recently he has served as an event escort for VIP guests. Tribute to Valor is honored to welcome him to this year’s executive planning committee.
Doug & Kim Peysha
Kim Peysha graduated from Seattle University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. She joined
American Airlines in 1988 as a flight attendant and has held multiple positions during her tenure. She
began volunteering to support active military, veterans and their families in 2007. Most recently Kim has
lead volunteer teams, and procured food and beverage donations for major events supporting the
military. In addition, Kim has taken the lead in obtaining volunteer crewmembers and organizing
catering for charters supporting those who serve.
Doug Peysha attended The Ohio State University earning a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer
Engineering. In addition, he served in the US Army Reserves and National Guard for nine years. In his
professional career Doug continues to support the Defense industry. Most recently, he is the program
manager for a leading defense contractor for large scale thermal weapon site programs that enables the
war fighter with advanced technology. In addition to the work Doug does professionally to support the
military, he joins his wife in volunteering to support active military, veterans and their families.
They currently live in Melbourne Beach, Florida and have two grown sons.
Donna Groves currently serves as the Manager of Veterans Initiatives and Senior Group Sales Manager for the Sheraton DFW Airport and DoubleTree DFW Airport, she has been working in the hotel industry for over 15 years in various sales and operation rolls.
Her passion for serving our heroes stems from her father who served as a medic during the Korean War. Utilizing her relationships and experience in the hotel industry she has become involved in several projects over the years supporting our military and their families. Serving our veterans has become a large part of her life, continuing now with the Tribute to Valor Weekend and the Medal of Honor Bob Hope Award Gala.
Being the grandson of a Pearl Harbor survivor, Brian does what he can in military and veteran initiatives. He was the transportation lead for American Airlines, Skyball the past two years and volunteers as the charter coordinator for the Gary Sinise Foundation. Brian currently works for American Airlines on the Policies and Procedures team.
Before starting his aviation career, Brian worked as a Paramedic and Paramedic Supervisor in San Diego and San Bernardino Counties. He served on several task forces, including tactical response teams and Federal Emergency Response teams. After working in the EMS field for 15 years, he left to pursue other areas of interest.
Brian and his wife Patricia have five daughters, three of which work in the aviation business. They all love to travel and visit new and interesting places.
Chris currently works on the American Airlines Strategic Account Sales team as a Leader where core responsibilities include comprehensive team training and development, support and engagement to our most valued employees and corporate customers. Before joining the SAS Team, Chris held many positions within her 27 years at American such as Distribution Strategy Analyst and Online Travel Sales Manager. In her spare time she likes to travel to Europe, Caribbean and South America. Also, her favorite hobby is practicing Bikram Yoga. Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing.
Debbie and Mike Quintanilla
Mike and Debbie Quintanilla
Mike and Debbie Quintanilla have been married for 34 years and are the proud parents of three. It was one of those children who inspired them to give back to the country that had given them so much. After witnessing their son graduate from the University of Texas with a degree in IT, earning over $100,000 in his first year of employment and then choosing to join the Army they knew that they had to “let our military members know they were thankful and proud of their service.” Since then they have consistently given of their time and energy in support of those who have sacrificed themselves like Mike’s brother who had also made an impression on him growing up, being a Marine serving in Vietnam.
Spencer Bass is Vice President and Founding Partner of XSM Global, LLC, a Dallas-based sports agency specializing in the representation of action sports athletes. Before Spencer partnered with Deborah Newman to create XSM Global, he was a professional BMX athlete for 10 years. Traveling to over 40 countries, he rode in some of the biggest international contests, appeared in TV commercials, was published in magazine ads around the world, and acquired major endorsement deals
During Bass’ career, his agent and now advisor for XSM Tom Fireoved, took Bass under his wing to help him learn and understand the business side of the sports world. At a young age, Bass grasped the concepts he was being taught and used that knowledge to secure his own major endorsement deals, with his agent there for guidance if needed.
Spencer is excited and truly honored to serve along side the members of the 2018 Tribute to Valor Executive Committee.
Deborah Newman is President of XSM Global LLC, an action sports management and marketing firm, as well as JDC Enterprises LLC, a marketing, publishing and media agency. Deborah started her career in real estate management. As a born people-lover, she excelled at marketing and lease-up campaigns in property management, later specializing in acquisitions and rehabs. It was a natural transition to begin publishing a resource guide for real estate management, which she followed with a marketing and media agency. Through her involvement in industry professional organizations, she has served on and co-chaired many committees. She was recognized in Dallas Book of Lists, and throughout her career has received multiple achievement awards.
Having been raised in an Air Force family, she has always had a place in her heart for the military and those who serve. Her father was a World War II POW, and became Air Force pilot after the war. Deborah is honored and excited to serve on, and be a part of the 2018 Executive Committee for the Tribute to Valor Weekend.
President/Owner of Internal Control Systems, Inc. based in Austin, TX. – Specializing in Security, Access Control, Fire Alarm, CCTV and other related services. Diane along with her late husband, Mike Jackson, knew the importance of raising awareness and giving back to your community as well as to the men, women and families of those who have served protecting our freedom. Diane served as a Board Member and Vice-President for the Seton Associates of Lakeway benefiting Seton Shoal Creek Hospital from 2006 to 2010. In 2007, Diane served on the committee of The Patriot Fund, started by her husband Mike Jackson, in Lakeway, TX. The Patriot Fund started for the sole purpose of raising $25K for 1 IBOT mobility device to give to a wounded veteran. The community was so engaged, they ended up raising enough money to give out close to 19 IBOT’s. Diane also chaired an event for Luke’s Wings in 2010 which raised over $20K for flights and emergency flights for families and service members to be with each other while in the hospital and during recovery. From 2014 to 2017 she served as co-chair for a New Year’s Eve Gala benefiting Help Our Wounded which raised over to $300K to help with the day to day monetary needs of service members and their families. Diane has volunteered in several other fundraisers to benefit our military. It has been an honor and a privilege to give back in some small way.
Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson
Leonard and Troy
Leonard Firestone & Troy Robertson are the co-founders of the Firestone & Robertson (F&R) Distilling Company in Fort Worth, Texas. Heavily involved in both civic and charitable endeavors, Leonard & Troy have participated in various ambassador trips with the City of Fort Worth, City of Dallas, and Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, Leonard serves on the Board of Directors for the Fort Worth Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. F&R is a proud supporter of our nation’s military and those who serve or have served. While being sold in both Navy and AAFES Exchange stores across the world, as well as employing multiple veterans, F&R also sponsors numerous, charitable military events such as golf tournaments, sporting clays events, and much more. Continually, the company also has partnered with the Medal of Honor Foundation to sponsor events intended to benefit local youth by using examples of “courage, commitment, sacrifice, integrity, citizenship and patriotism to influence change in their own communities.” Lastly, F&R is also a “Life Sponsor” of Ducks Unlimited, committing time and resources equally to the non-profit organization’s mission to conserve wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, other wildlife, and people.
Amber Holmes started her most recent career at Sedona in October of 2014 as the Operations Manager of Sedona Productions. Previously, from 2011 until 2013, Amber was an integral part of the team serving as Consultant and Bar Manager. During her year sabbatical from Sedona, she served as the Managing Director of the Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas. Her extensive experience includes Assistant Club Manager at City Club and Fine Dining Manager for Michael Anthony’s in Southlake. Amber’s first experiences in the hospitality industry began at 18 when she was hired by Delta Air Lines to clean airplanes, moving into the Delta office and then finally as a Flight Attendant. Her 20 years at Delta shaped Amber’s hospitality mindset, customer service, compassion and empathy which are all at the forefront of her strategies and decisions.
Amber grew up in Independence, Missouri and moved to Texas in 1986. She met her husband, Craig, while working at Delta 11 years prior to dating. Their two sons love baseball, spending time playing on their land and enjoying golf. She and her family love spending time with family and friends. In their spare time they support anything for KinderFrogs at TCU and The Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas. Amber is on the Board of the Freedom Elementary PTA.
As the mother of a severely wounded warrior, Rosie Babin has 15 years of first-hand experience regarding the challenges that injured service members, their families, and caregivers face. After her son, Alan, was critically wounded in 2003 she faced many complex decisions with no clear direction, and many ‘No’s’ from the places she turned to for help. Her tenacious and ever-hopeful approach, as well as her background as an Army veteran and former paralegal and Administrator, allowed her to overcome many obstacles and find the answers, guidance, and resources her family needs.
Rosie continues to care for Alan full-time since he was wounded in Iraq, but also uses her experience to help other wounded veterans and their families. Rosie Founded Help Our Wounded (or HOW), a nonprofit organization that for 9 years provided emergency financial assistance, mentoring, respite care, and institutional support to our wounded and their caregivers. She is also an Elizabeth Dole Foundation Fellow, representing Texas to advocate for military caregivers, bringing awareness to the issues and needs related to long-term caregiving, and to put a face on our Hidden Heroes. A Subject-Matter Expert in military Caregiver issues, Rosie brings hands-on, personal experience.
Rosie speaks before civic and veterans groups to inspire support and illustrate gaps in the care provided by the Department of Defense, Veterans Administration, and other wounded veterans groups. She works with members of Congress to keep the interests of wounded warriors front and center, and helps these returned heroes and their families achieve a life that is happy and whole.
Rosie’s unparalleled skill at navigating military and medical bureaucracies on behalf of warrior veterans and their caregivers makes her a uniquely qualified leader in the military caregiving and advocacy community.
Rosie has been married to her high school sweetheart, Alain (also an Army Veteran), for 40 years. Together, they have two children, Alan and Christy.