By Staff Sgt. Marcus Butler, USASOC Public AffairsJanuary 10, 2012
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Jan. 10, 2012) -- On the day of his 30th birthday, Sgt. 1st Class Ronald A. Grider was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan leaving behind his wife, Brittany Grider, daughter, Katie-Anne Grider. In the wake of this tragedy, hope rose from the ashes as Brittany made the move to establish a foundation to carry on the legacy of what her husband stood for. In memory of Ronald, Brittany founded The Aaron Grider Foundation, which donated presents to family from the United States Army Special Operations Command for the holidays.
For the holidays Brittany asked the Unit Ministry Teams from within the USASOC for families that needed some type of help. In response to this request, several of the Chaplains gave names and Brittany donated presents to the families for Christmas.
"My husband, Ronald Aaron Grider, died doing what he loved…he gave his life selflessly and serving others. That is what I want to strive to do as well in the time I have been given here," said Brittany. "This life is not about us -- it is about something greater. It is about laying down our lives for the sake of others...it is about laying down our lives because of the life that has been laid down for us. It is what we're called to do and I'm just trying to be true to that calling."
In light of these gifts the UMT were able to spread good will and happiness throughout their various commands.
It was a great experience to deliver the gifts on behalf of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The 95th Civil Affairs Brigade was just very grateful to be part of it by helping these families, said Maj. Darrick Gutting, command chaplain for 95th CA (Airborne).
In addition to the 95th CA Bde. receiving gifts, other recipients were families from 528th Sustainment Brigade, Special Operations (Airborne) and 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne).
"It's hard to see this as a selfless act and rather our friends and family saw it is as following through with the command we are given to love and serve our brothers and sisters in need," said Brittany.
The phrase "Hope Endures" is at the heart of the motivation that drives Brittany to carry on her husband's work and shows the true spirit of giving.
"Hope stems from a desire to continue to selflessly serve others and as Aaron did, to live life in hope - finding opportunities for others to experience and share God's compassion. Aaron and Brittany never anticipated how their ministry would unfold, yet because of God's grace, hope endures and ministering can happen in unexpected and powerful ways," said Brittany.
"The gratitude and appreciation shown and spoke by the Soldiers and Families were heartfelt. It was very obvious that they were astonished by the generosity of the organization. Many "thanks" were exchanged and, "we appreciate this very much" was heard from the Soldiers and family members. Some of the children were ready to tear wrapping as soon as they saw their gifts. Nothing like children who can't wait to open up gifts," said Gutting.
"I am very passionate about this work. In the mystery of God's purposes amidst the evil of this world, this is the story Aaron and I have been given in this life. I am so inspired by the way Aaron lived his life here...he was an overwhelming witness for me and he lived his life with such passion and purpose -- it was so energizing to be a part of his life. He knew his calling and lived passionately serving others in that calling. I now believe this is my calling and when you put your heart into your calling the passion simply follows," said Brittany.