Thank for all you gave to Operation Give
Back in 2004, shortly after my return from my second deployment to Iraq, one day, out of the blue, a woman called me up on the phone asking if she could be involved in Operation Give. She said she heard about us on the news and wanted to volunteer to help anyway she could to make Operation Give successful. From that day forward Elaine Ward and of course her husband Steve Ward, her trusty sidekick, were there right along with me every step of the way and in most cases they were out front leading the way for Operation Give. In many cases, due to my work schedule at FedEx, my deployments and my military assignments overseas in Korea, Elaine has been the driving force for many of our wonderful programs at Operation Give.
For those of you who don’t know this, Elaine has had many serious health issues over the years, from bone cancer – to a leg amputation (which forced her to be wheelchair bound for many years) – to needing to be on oxygen 24-7 due to a vehicle accident which collapsed her lungs. As long as I have known her, she has heroically fought through continual pain and suffering; enduring many close calls, many operations and long stays at the hospital and up at the Huntsman Cancer Center.
Another interesting point is that Elaine and Steve live in Richmond, Utah, north of Logan Utah, approximately 2 hours by car from Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Operation Give warehouse is. Elaine and Steve have religiously once or twice a week or as often as needed, have made the long trek driving both ways in a day through all kinds of weather (and that area of northern Utah has severe winter weather), just to take care of things at the warehouse or to tend a booth at a Expo or to buy additional supplies.
Even so, regardless of her many challenges, never once did I hear her complain about her condition and most of the time she would never even mention anything about her current condition good or bad. Many times I didn’t even know she had been in the hospital again or had additional complications. She never once used her disability as a reason for not wanting or not able to do something; actually on the contrary I think she drove even harder, requiring more from all of us just to try to keep up with her.
No matter no matter she would always just drive on; with all the energy she could muster and with all her might. And boy was she a force to recon with, once she set her mind on something. She really did it all, in so many ways, beyond my capacity to put words to adequately describe her dedication and contribution over the years.
It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that Elaine recently passed away a few days before Thanksgiving, while I was traveling through Eastern Europe with my wife. I returned back to South Korea on Thanksgiving Day to find out that her funeral had been held just the day before. Her passing came as such a shock to my wife and I, one that we haven’t really fully realized or accepted yet. It is just too strange to think that she is no longer going to be there to take care of the day-to-day affairs of Operation Give.
She is irreplaceable in so many ways. She gave us her all and dedicated herself to keeping Operation Give going, with full purpose of heart and all the love she could share. She was and is an inspiration to all of us, one I will never forget.
All I can say is thanks Elaine, from the bottom of my heart, for all you have done, for your great example and for showing me the way to live. You will be deeply missed. I still find myself looking for your emails or waiting for your phone calls, to let me know how things are going.
I am sure you are glad to be rid of all the difficulties and challenges of your physical body that you experienced here on earth and I am sure you are already involved in many new projects up there. We will see you again soon, I am sure.
Paul and Keeyeon Holton