Three months after he was shot while deployed in Afghanistan, Cpl. Tyler Huffman returned to his father's home in Fulton, Missouri. He had been injured in the spine, lung and liver, and was now paralyzed from the waist down. To his surprise, a welcoming committee awaited his arrival—and thanks to the Semper Fi Fund, there was more in store for this Marine.
The Semper Fi Fund provides finances to injured Marines and their families to help with visits during rehabilitation, specialized equipment and more. In the case of Huffman, he was given a grant to help build a 'smart' home, as well as finances for an adaptive vehicle.
Many events across the country benefit the Semper Fi Fund, and the second-largest is held on a St. Louis fairway. Named for the former Marine Corps Commandant, the Missouri Friends of Injured Marines' Gen. James T. Conway Golf Outing is now in its 10th year. Since its start, the organization has raised $2.2 million to benefit the Semper Fi Fund.
Before Gen. James Conway became the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps, he was a classmate of St. Louisan Allen Allred in Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. Allred, a partner at Thompson Coburn, explains that Conway—upon returning home after leading the first Marine Corps expeditionary force into Iraq—asked if he could help raise money for the families affected by injuries
Allred responded by—plain and simple—asking people for money. "But after that first effort of just asking folks to give money, it occurred [to me] that this need is not over," Allred says. "We can't do enough to help our Marines who have given all—or in this case, a part of their body—to protect us so we can sleep easy at night."
At this year's 10th annual event, held on Aug. 24, some 240 golfers are expected to play across The Country Club of St. Albans' two courses. Huffman will be in attendance as this year's honoree. Additionally, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John Paxton Jr.—who is ranked second-highest in the Marine Corps—will attend and speak at the event.
"We're very honored to have [Paxton] come here to St. Louis," says Allred. "Of all the demands put upon him…he comes to be with us and say thank you to the folks of St. Louis."