Do you ever wonder how veterans cope with life once they come home from combat? After being trained to be on high-alert 24/7, what's it like for them to integrate back into everyday society? It raises the question: our military members protect us, but who protects them?

Over the years HooplaHa has done many stories on organizations that help veterans when they return home, but the personal origin story and mission of the Catch A Lift Fund is among the most moving we've ever covered.

The Catch A Lift Fund (CAL) was founded in 2010, with the sole purpose of helping post-9/11 combat wounded veterans all over the U.S. recover both physically and mentally. Uniquely, CAL's service to veterans centers on physical fitness: the program pays for gym memberships, in-home gym equipment, and personalized fitness, as well as nutrition plans and a peer-support network.

Catch A Lift vets are seeing and feeling results, including:

  • dramatic weight loss,
  • reduction in medications,
  • improved sleep patterns, and
  • strengthened relationships with family and friends.
To some people, working out the body might not seem equivalent to a therapy session focused on the mind, but CAL participants make clear how powerful its impact can be.
"For us, it's healing," says Sarah Rudder, Marine Corps Veteran, mother, and amputee. "They were able to provide me with the best therapy I've had in my life." To read more about Sarah Rudder, click here.

It was a veteran's life—and death—that inspired the creation of Catch A Lift and the CAL Fund. The founder is Lynn Coffland, whose brother, Army Cpl. Chris Coffland, lost his life in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in November 2009. In telling her brother's story, Lynn remembers that Chris believed strongly in mental and physical fitness—and that through it, anyone can reach their highest potential.

Thanks to Lynn, over the past 7 years CAL has helped more than 3,000 wounded veterans! And due to the program's success, demand has skyrocketed, and nearly 500 wounded veterans have joined the CAL waiting list. To serve these brave men and women, CAL needs to raise about $500,000 a year.

Fortunately, CAL has inspired enthusiastic support from a local and national community; in 2016, the Catch A Lift Fund raised a record $1 million! Subsequently, CAL was honored to ring the NYSE opening bell, received a grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation, and — most importantly — was able to employ alumni of the program to train other veterans in need.

This year, HooplaHa had the privilege of standing with this amazing organization at the town of Westport, Connecticut's 3rd Annual Veterans Day Benefit event held at Birchwood Country Club, an annual fundraiser that has become an anchor and home for CAL. The CAL and its veterans have support from just about the entire town, as members of the Police Force, local businesses, and other community members come together, and it's truly amazing to see. We're so excited to share with you the incredible stories of perseverance... and all the incredible things that the Catch A Lift Fund is doing, in our new HooplaHa original video.

The Catch A Lift Fund is impacting many people's lives and has received major coverage... After an initial meeting with Lynn + CAL, Emmy award-winning filmmaker Alex Douglas fell in love with the foundation. He ending up donating his time and filmmaking skills and created a short documentary film for Catch a Lift that you can watch here.

Alex is also the Creator + Founder of Sculpting With Time and has had a life-long love affair with film, having been awarded the National Endowment for the Arts (one of the world's most prestigious arts organizations).

This HooplaHa original video was produced by Laurence Sheinman, shot by Johnny Perez, and edited by Kellie Sieban. For more inspiring stories, follow us on Facebook and sign up for our Only Good News Newsletter.