If We Cannot Find a Way, We Will Make One.

From left to right: HunterSeven Foundations Director of Education, Jack Ratliff; BRCC's Jarred Taylor and Evan Hafer, Director of Immediate Needs, Jillian Rowe, Army veteran and former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Founder of HunterSeven, Chelsey Simoni, UFC Head of Security and Army veteran, Elliott Loewenstein, and BRCC's Mat Best at UFC 295 in New York City.

While we work with all post-9/11 military service members and veterans, we see a disproportionate number of special operators being diagnosed with late and end-stage terminal cancers.

We’ve got the science pinned down, our cancer predictive rates are at an accuracy and confidence level of 91.3%. We know who, why, and how these service members and veterans were exposed, when they were exposed, and what they’ve been exposed to. We know who is at risk based on epidemiological distribution patterns.

While it is a victorious and triumphant feeling, we sat there saying “Now What?” – we need to get these men and women screened for cancer, whether it be through blood testing or AI-enhanced MR imaging. We knew we needed to prevent another [preventable] cancer death.

We went to our friends at the Special Operations veteran-owned company, SOFLETE, and created this shirt as part of the F♠CK CANCER Initiative. The shirt has 165 names of post-9/11 special operations service members and veterans who have passed away as a result of cancer. Now, these are just the ones we know of.

We chose to honor their service, their stories, their bravery, and their sacrifices while continuing to support others in need of cancer screening. We launched the shirts on Veterans Day, which coincided perfectly with the announcement by Black Rifle Coffee founder and Green Beret, Evan Hafer that the company had formed a partnership with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) but more importantly, that Black Rifle Coffee wanted to highlight the mission of HunterSeven Foundation, and below is what he had to say:

Millions of us served our country in support of the Global War on Terror, and now we’re fighting for survival back here at home. In the wake of the post-9/11 wars, hundreds of thousands of veterans have died of ‘unknown causes.’ That number includes some of my closest friends, guys I served with and consider brothers. The groundbreaking work that the HunterSeven Foundation is doing is personal to me and to every person who has ever worn this country’s uniform. I’m proud to stand alongside UFC® this Veterans Day in supporting HunterSeven.”  

To make it more than just words, Evan and Black Rifle Coffee announced they’d match up to $150,000 in donations made to HunterSeven over the week of Veterans Day! Our team attended the UFC 295 event, wearing our F♠CK CANCER OD Green shirts collectively and we proudly stood in the Octagon with fellow Veteran and close friend, Tulsi Gabbard (who donated $15,000 toward the match), and members of the Black Rifle Coffee leadership team: Air Force TACP Jarred Taylor, Army Green Beret Evan Hafer, and Army Ranger Mat Best. Only 500 of these shirts were made through SOFLETE and sold out almost immediately. Bringing the donation from SOFLETE to HunterSeven upwards of $15,000 from those t-shirt sales alone!

That $15,000 will screen approximately 20 post-9/11 at-risk Special Operators for cancer. Statistically, a third will return “positive”. But the most incredible part is their chances of survival will be upwards of 90% rather than 10%.

The women pictured, from left to right:

Mrs. Jacole Hall, wife, and widow of Recon Marine and Green Beret, SSG Dominic Hall. A two-time Afghan war veteran and Appleton Police Officer was diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma in the summer of 2021 at 30 years old. Dom was called home by God on September 4th, 2022, leaving behind his wife, and two young boys.

Mrs. Kelly Jo McElhenney, wife and widow of Air Force Special Operations Aviator, LTC James “Yogi” McElhenney. In 2015, after years of significant back pain that providers deemed as “just being part of the job and getting older”, Kelly Jo sent Yogi to a civilian provider. Extensive blood work and an MRI showed Yogi, at just 48 years old with no family history… had stage IV prostate cancer that had spread to his mid and lower spine, and eventually his retina and brain tissue. Kelly Jo said… “On January 23, 2019, at 8:03 p.m., I held my husband in my arms, told him it was okay and that I loved him, and I watched him die. I relive that nightmare almost every night…

Mrs. Traci LaPanna, wife and widow of Army GreenBeret and Police Officer, MSG Angelo “AJ” LaPanna. We met AJ through a nurse friend of ours, as AJ was local to our HQ. When asked how he was feeling, AJ said “It could always be worse“. Unfortunately, AJ passed away at 48 years old on October 1st of this year from metastatic head and neck cancer.

So many brave men and women from the Special Operations Community are represented on that shirt, from Navy SEALs to Delta Force Operators, MARSOC Marines, and JTACs, Medal of Honor Recipients, Fathers, and Husbands. We must do what we can do prevent these deaths from occurring… and because of companies like SOFLETE and Black Rifle Coffee, we will do just that.

To support HunterSeven please visit: www.HunterSeven.org/Donate

To request medical support or cancer screening, please visit: www.hunterseven.org/our-programs/immediate-needs/

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