GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The stepmother of a fallen Navy SEAL from Kentwood is speaking out for the first time since her stepson was killed in action in August 2012.
A short time after David Warsen was killed, the Warsen family started the David Warsen Memorial Foundation. On Thursday, Jan. 9, with the help of Celebration Cinemas and the release of the film ‘The Lone Survivor,’ the family was able to give back to the community in their loved one’s name.
The movie tells the story about a team of Navy SEALS ambushed and only one lived to tell the story. Before it was a movie, it was a favorite book of Warsen.
Stephanie Warsen promised her stepson, David, that she would read it when he came home. Although he never did return from Afghanistan, she feels it’s only fitting to hold a fundraiser at the movie’s premiere.
“It’s amazing in the year and a half that he’s been gone the things that we find the courage to do,” said Stephanie. “Just when you think you can’t, David’s in our ear and we are able to do that.”
She said David gives her courage to get up and say ‘thank you’ to a packed movie theater full of people who came to honor his memory and support his cause.
The 27-year-old Navy SEAL was deployed in Afghanistan when he was killed in the line of duty after his helicopter crashed Aug. 16.
“David was a Navy SEAL but a Navy SEAL wasn’t who made David,” his stepmother said. “David was David Warsen. He was a person and he was a God-serving man.”
With that in mind, the David Warsen Memorial Foundation was created. The foundation has already raised thousands in a year and a half for two of David’s passions; soccer and the Navy SEALS.
“Any child of any need in the community from needing money in to play soccer to soccer shoes, anything they need we would do that for them,” she said.
Portions of the tickets sold at Thursday’s movie premiere at Celebrations Cinemas North will benefit the David Warsen Memorial Foundation.
Stephanie Warsen said the foundation will continue to grow until his passion is shared with everyone.
“David was wonderful at bringing people together,” she said. “It was a talent of his and yet in his passing he continues, like tonight, to just bring people together.”
If you were unable to make it out to the movie premiere you can still make a donation by visiting the David Warsen Memorial Foundation website.