Mike Goranson served in the USMC as an infantrymen as well a member of the Security Forces. He conducted two combat deployments and was decorated with the Purple Heart for wounds received in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. Mike joined Team RWB two years ago as a team member to set new physical goals and to find a new sense of purpose. After a few months he joined the leadership team as veteran outreach coordinator, then veteran outreach director and has now moved to become the Chapter Captain for Chicago. Mike has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. For the last five years, Mike has worked full-time as a project manager in the low voltage telecommunications field. Mike completed his first marathon last year with Team RWB. He is consistently pushing his physical limits and enjoys paying it forward by helping others exceed expectations.
REGION: South Central
CHAPTER: Bryan/College Station, TX
Chris Thompson served a majority of his time in the Army as a Green Beret in 3rd Special Forces Group. He conducted seven combat deployments and was decorated with the Bronze Star for Valor, two Bronze Stars for service, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Valorous Unit Award. Chris was also presented the Congressional Veteran Commendation. Chris joined Team RWB for the opportunity to be a part of a team again, to connect with like-minded people, and to get physically active. Like most others who have been in the military, he has a calling to serve and be a part of something greater than himself. Fortunately, Team RWB offers several opportunities to do just that. Chris currently volunteers as a Chapter Captain for the Bryan/College Station Chapter. Chris is also one of fifteen Eagle Leader Fellows which is allowing him to volunteer at a regional level and continue to grow as a leader in the organization.
CHAPTER: Daytona, FL
Lani Faulkner was raised in the military by incredible role models as parents and learned from a very young age about family, community, sacrifices, and patriotism. She is the wife of a veteran and mother of an active duty military man. Lani is very passionate about Team RWB’s mission to enrich the lives of America’s veterans through physical and social activity because these activities help create connections that are both rewarding and fulfilling, feeling almost like family reunions. According to Lani, “The more you get involved with Team RWB, and allow yourself to accept and embrace the positivity of other members, you realize that you are never alone and that there is always an Eagle nearby to lift up your spirits.” Lani has always regretted not wearing the uniform and serving her country in the military. At one Team RWB Leadership event, Lani heard Andrew Hutchinson share his experience about exiting the Army and what one of his officers stated, “You don’t have to wear the uniform to still serve our country.” At that moment, Lani realized that she does serve her country and her uniform is the Team RWB Eagle on her red shirt.
CHAPTER: New York, NY
John Escalante is still serving in uniform with the Marine Corps as a hard-charging Master Sergeant with over 24 years of service. He is also serving the veteran community with his brothers and sisters as the Deputy Chapter Captain in New York City. Team RWB has provided John with opportunities to motivate and inspire others, help and assist Eagles, develop aspiring leaders, and help teammates realize their goals. Seeing his teammates accomplish their goals, previously thought to be impossible, is a blessing. John is quick to highlight, “The sense of gratitude is definitely not a one-way street.” After dealing with a personal tragedy in his family last year, John experienced the unwavering love, support, and prayers of his beloved nationwide Team RWB family. John’s journey to finding his own identity was significantly influenced by the Eagle Ethos. His involvement in Team RWB allowed him to transition from being disconnected to society to becoming the “go to guy” he once was on active duty. John notes, “When I put on my RWB shirt, something happens…that Eagle makes me feel strong and invincible, a feeling that is mutual when I’m around other Eagles.
CHAPTER: Denver, CO
Chad currently coordinates athletic events for Team RWB Denver Chapter and has been an active participant since the Old Glory Relay in 2014. He is also a full-time student at the University of Colorado Denver where he is pursuing a degree in Nursing. He grew up in Lee’s Summit, MO as the eldest of three and graduated high school in 1996. He lost his Dad to ALS at age twelve. As a junior in High School Chad enlisted in the Army Reserves in hopes to find direction after his devastating loss. Spending a total of eleven years in the U.S. Army from 1995–2006, Chad went on two deployments with the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion (Iraq ’03–’04 and Mali, Africa ’05). After returning from combat Chad faced divorce and bankruptcy. He was diagnosed with PTSD and self-medicated for eight years with drugs and alcohol; a journey that almost killed him and led him to chemical-induced psychosis. Chad began his sober journey in 2014 and moved to Colorado to be closer to his two children in Westminster, CO. At this time, he found Team RWB, which has brought him new purpose and connection with his community and other veterans. He loves wearing the Eagle while he competes as a triathlete and ultra trail runner. He thanks God for bringing Team RWB into his life.
CHAPTER: Washington, DC
Heather Boyd is a mother, a wife, and a soldier…and she’s also training to run a 100 mile endurance race. How does this Eagle manage to balance this all? “You don’t have to be the best, that’s what I like about ultra-running. In the end I know I worked my hardest and did my best when I cross that finish line, even though I didn’t win”. And having the support of Team RWB as well as her husband and son certainly helps! Whether it’s in uniform or wearing the Eagle, Heather leads and inspires others with her dedication and infectious positive attitude. Being a part of the Army for the past 15 years has also taught her accountability and balance. Being a member of Team RWB has given her a welcoming and supportive community. So what would Heather say to someone interested in joining Team RWB? “Give Team RWB a try! Come out to some events and you’ll make instant friends and have a cheering squad of good people who share your same goals.