Benefit helps wounded vets get back on track
WESTPORT — After being wounded in 2001 and ultimately losing her leg, Marine Lance Cpl. Sarah Rudder suffered a long period of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and general physical deterioration.
However, through Catch a Lift, which funds fitness grants to help get wounded veterans back on track, her life was immeasurably changed.
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The fifth annual Westport benefit was held Friday night at Birchwood Country Club, where more than 100 supporters attended for dinner, drinks and a chance to meet some of the veterans who have benefitted from the organization.
“For me it became therapy,” Rudder said of the program, which originated 10 years ago.
Not only did it help her shed 100 pounds and lift her out of a depression, it gave her a purpose and a community, as reflected in a tattoo she has on her left arm which reads simply “TRIBE.”
“We really change the health of the combat veterans returning,” said founder Lynn Coffland, whose brother died while serving in Afghanistan.
“They start to get back to who they were physically and it changes them mentally,” she said, with grants getting veterans gym membership, equipment, training and a community.
Once these veterans are able to achieve some measure of recovery, they begin to help others get involved in the program and give back.
“They find a new purpose and they bond together in a community,” Coffland said.
She said there are currently 5,800 veterans involved in programs, having received Catch a Life grants. There are still, however, 750 or so wait-listed, waiting for funding to come through to bring them this shared opportunity.
“Westport has been our home away from home,” Coffland said. “Westport has opened its arms like no other city.”