Tricia English had to create “a whole new future” for herself and her family when her husband, US Army Captain Shawn English, was killed in 2006 in Iraq.

The army was their life. He told them where to live, where to go. They received an outpouring of love, but after Shawn’s funeral, it was up to English, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, to pick up the pieces.

Years later, the Folded Flag Foundation stepped in to help. The organization, chaired by Golden Knights owner Bill Foley, provides scholarships and support grants to spouses and children of U.S. military and government personnel who have died in the line of duty.

English’s three sons received help from the charity, which held a gala on Thursday in New York to honor those who joined the military after 9/11. His youngest, Nathan, is a freshman at the Virginia Military Institute, and she credits the Folded Flag Foundation for getting him in his way.

This allowed him to attend Montgomery Bell Academy, a private school in Nashville that helped him push his limits and find “the perfect opportunity for him” at VMI.

“It actually changed the trajectory of his life,” English said. “And it’s not dramatic.”

Foley, a member of the U.S. Military Academy Class of 1967, first came up with the idea for what would become the Folded Flag Foundation in the early 2000s. He saw it as a way to honor his classmates. . Many left for Vietnam soon after graduating. Thirty did not return.

Foley, who said helping surviving spouses at the time was “pretty depressing,” wanted to help current families persevere after the death of a loved one. He finally took off in 2014 after telling his West Point classmate Fred Schremp, now vice president, about his idea.

“It was just something we wanted to do to turn things around,” Foley said. “Our country has truly failed to care for our fallen heroes as it should.”

One of the people the charity has since helped is Henderson resident Babette Kellner. Her husband, Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Kellner of the US Navy, died of leukemia in 2014.

The Folded Flag Foundation found Kellner and led her to apply for a scholarship. Her family — she’s raising son Nathan, a high school freshman, and daughter Bri, a fourth-year student — was accepted. The help proved instrumental when she was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago, allowing her to focus on her health instead of worrying about her finances.

“Often we are forgotten,” said Kellner, who added that she is currently undergoing preventative treatments to stay cancer-free. “They have not forgotten us.

The assistance Kellner received is among nearly $10 million in grants the Folded Flag Foundation has awarded since its inception, the organization said in March. That money paid for kindergarten, college, and everything else.

The amount of aid distributed also continues to increase. The charity said in August it had awarded more than $3.25 million in scholarships to 750 recipients for the 2022-23 school year.

The Folded Flag Foundation hopes to continue to grow. Foley said one of the organization’s goals is to start doing television commercials to increase awareness and donations. He said he pays the charity’s administrative costs, allowing every donation to go directly to grants.

“I’m proud of it,” Foley said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done.”

What stands out from English, who spoke at the Folded Flag Foundation gala on Thursday, is how personal the charity is. He was looking for her and Kellner. They looked at his family’s situation and needs before deciding on an amount. They even helped form bonds that gave support to her and her sons.

English said she was “no longer part” of an Army club after her husband’s death. The Folded Flag Foundation provided him with a new one.

“They really became a community for us,” English said. “They’ve really helped fill a huge community void for families like ours.”

Contact Ben Gotz at [email protected] Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.