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IFHF Receives $15,000 Donation From 17-Year Old Norman Stark, Who Took On The Challenge To Swim Lake Erie

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) today announced it has received a donation of $15,005 from 17-year old Erie, PA resident Norman Stark, whose audacious attempt to swim Lake Erie provoked an outpouring of local support.  The funds raised will go towards IFHF’s $100 million public fundraising campaign to support returning veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and psychological health conditions through the construction of nine new “Intrepid Spirit Centers.” 
 
Norman, who is entering his senior year at Cathedral Preparatory School in Erie, came close to completing the near-25 mile swimming challenge, having trained extensively for the event. He also set up an innovative website to generate financial and moral support from local residents. He was inspired to embark on this epic swim by the challenges faced by veterans and their families in the service of our country. 

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Norman Stark presents a check for $15,005 to David Winters, President of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.

“We are incredibly grateful for Norman’s big donation. It will be a huge help in our efforts to build medical centers to care for wounded servicemen and women who have given our country so much,” said David Winters, President of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. “Few people would even dare dream of trying such a massive challenge but Norman decided that only a challenge of this scale was worthy of a fundraising effort to help our wounded heroes. We salute his audacity, his bravery, and his ability in raising so much money.” 
 
Norman Stark said, “I want to thank all of those people from Erie and elsewhere that supported me in this challenge. I’m exhausted and, while of course I wish I’d finished it, the most important thing is that we have been able to provide such a large sum to such a great cause. So many young men and women have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with very serious injuries and they need our help. The Intrepid Spirit Centers that the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is building will help to do exactly that.”
 
Norman set up a website specially dedicated to raising money for his swim. www.iswimforvets.com provided a platform for people to give money, while also giving details about the challenge and keeping people up-to-date through social media. Such an innovative approach was a factor in the large sum that Norman was able to generate.  
 
All Intrepid Spirit Centers are located at medical centers at military bases around the country to provide care for service members without having to separate them from their units or leave their families for extended periods of treatment.  This proximity to family and friends is expected to enhance their care and rehabilitation.
 
These Centers are based on the original NICoE, which opened in 2010 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.  Operated by the Department of Defense, NICoE is the most advanced facility of its kind in the country, and is the center of the Armed Forces’ efforts in researching, diagnosing and treating TBI and other psychological health conditions sustained by military personnel. Hundreds of American service members have received some form of diagnosis or treatment from NICoE in the last two years. 
 
Each center will be 25,000 sq. ft. and cost $11 million to build.  Upon completion, the Intrepid Spirit Centers are gifted to the Department of Defense for their use in diagnosing and treating returning service members.
 
The third of nine planned Intrepid Spirit Centers was dedicated just this week – at Fort Campbell, KY.  The first two centers were dedicated last fall at Ft. Belvoir, VA and Camp Lejeune, NC and have already provided care for 2,000 service members. Two additional centers are currently under construction at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Fort Hood, Texas. 
 
Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when a sudden trauma or head injury disrupts the function of the brain. Common causes of TBI include damage caused by explosive devices, falls and vehicle or motorcycle accidents. Most reported TBI among Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom service members and veterans has been traced back to Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, used extensively against Coalition Forces. Symptoms can appear immediately or weeks to months following the injury.