2016 – Giving Back
Chris Van Etten & Samantha Yovandich
Every year, Cathie and Al Ransom gift one extraordinary couple with an all expenses-paid wedding at one of their two awesome wedding venues. But not just any couple. Al Ransom is a decorated Marine veteran, who served his country for 30 years as a corps pilot, so as one could assume, the couple has a love and passion for all of our uniformed heroes.
Veteran Marine Cpl. Chris Van Etten is one such hero, who has poured his heart and soul into bettering himself and inspiring others after losing his legs from an improvised explosive device blast, during a 2012 deployment to Afghanistan. Van Etten has a personal goal of one day opening a gym for people of all walks of life, but to include adaptive training for anyone who has physical obstacles of any kind and specialized trainers to help get these individuals back to a place of feeling their best.
For Cathie and Al, this was an easy decision. Chris and Samantha are an inspiring couple, who have overcome hardship and struggles, to grow into a supportive and incredibly strong couple, who are bonded by something so much deeper than an engagement ring. Los Willows Inc. is so very proud to officially announce that our 2016 Vows for Vets couple has been chosen and we are so very excited to begin the incredible planning process and soon witness Chris and Samantha’s heartfelt “I do’s” at our Paradise Falls wedding venue, in Oceanside, California.
Please stay tuned for more updates on the Vows for Vets program and this year’s event.
Kaleb & Sydney Weakley
We are honored to announce the Wounded Warrior that has been chosen to have the wedding of their dreams at Los Willows Wedding Estate.
Retired Marine Sergeant Kaleb Weakley was wounded in Afghanistan in February 2012. He took multiple gunshot wounds to his upper and lower extremities and spent over two years in a medical facility learning how to walk again .
Both Kaleb and his fiancé, Sydney Simonds, are truly inspirational and we cannot wait to see them say their “I Do’s” in March 2016 at Los Willows in Fallbrook, California.
The love that Kaleb has for is soon-to-be wife, Sydney is so touching. Please take a moment to get to know Kaleb Weakley and, hopefully, donate any amount you can to say “Thank You” to Kaleb for his service and sacrifice. We have set up a GoFundMe page to help give them not only the wedding of their dreams, but possibly a honeymoon to enjoy and celebrate their new life together.
Here is their Love Story as told by Kaleb Weakley. “We first met in May of 2013 at a USO Gala in San Diego, Sydney’s mom is also a Wounded Warrior at Balboa Naval Hospital and she introduced us at the USO Gala. I remember thinking how beautiful she looked and I wanted to get to know her better. Several months later, in September of 2013, we met again at a Wounded Warrior event at Del Mar Horse Track. Her mom and I convinced her to hang out with me that night. Then one week later I asked her on a formal date. We went out for sushi and then took my jeep to the drive in for a double feature (We’re the Millers & Kick-Ass 2). After a few weeks of dating I asked Sydney to accompany me to Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon, where, during our camping trip, I asked her to be my girlfriend and she said yes! We’ve been together ever since. When I was injured in February of 2012, I was at the point where I felt like everything I knew was over and I would be a hopeless cripple for life but, after meeting Sydney, she looked at me as every other person and still to this day doesn’t let me use my injuries as an excuse; I am always active and on-the-go and it’s all because of her. She gave me hope and showed me that I am equal to, if not better physically, than any able bodied person.I love her forever and always will.”
Watch the Video
Toran & Lisa Gaal
We are so proud to announce the Wounded Warrior that was selected to receive the wedding of their dreams at Paradise Falls. Marine Sgt. Toran Gaal of Valley Center, CA.
Sgt. Gaal was in the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in Sangin, Afghanistan. He was on his third deployment when, on June 26, 2011, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated beneath him, resulting in the loss of both leg and severe brain injury.Ironically, just the evening prior to the explosion, Sgt Gaal had announced to his unit that he was reenlisting.
Toran and his wife, Lisa, are an amazing couple and we couldn’t be more thrilled to host their wedding in March 2016 at Paradise Falls in Oceanside, California.
Please take a moment to read the inspiring story of Toran Gaal and, hopefully, donate any amount you can to say Thank You to Toran for his service and sacrifice. We have set up a GoFundMe page to help give the worthy couple the wedding and honeymoon.
Toran’s pre-injury story is as inspiring as his post-injury story. He has overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and achieved what they said could not be done.
After spending months learning how to talk again, Toran set out to walk again. His type of amputation is unique and extremely rare. Having lost his leg, hip, and part of his pelvis on one side and his leg above the knee on the other side, he was told that his life would be spent in a wheelchair.
Not only did Toran defy the odds and learn how to walk on specially designed prosthetic, but he took it to the extreme and set his sights on competing. Not just any competitions – he became a marathoner, a Cross Fit competitor, and a surf competitor. He does more in a day, physically than most of us will do in a month. He spends six days a week training, and when he isn’t training, he works on perfecting his message.
Toran’s message of hope, courage, overcoming challenges and adopting a never give up attitude is one that everyone should hear. His message serves as a reminder of how big hard work can pay off and how a positive attitude can influence results. He also speaks of moving forward after loss and building a meaningful life in honor of those who no longer have that option.
Hearing Toran’s story leaves no doubt about the power of the human spirit. Anything is possible, and the only limits in life are the ones we set for ourselves.
Learn more about Toran and his amazing journey by visiting his website at http://www.torangaal.com or read about his Hero’s Journey at https://www.fashionstork.com/blog/veteran-toran-gaal
Al Ransom along with his wife, Cathie are the owners of Los Willows Wedding Estate. Al is a retired Marine Colonel having served thirty years as an aviator. The Ransom’s are huge supporter of Wounded Warriors and host an annual Wounded Warrior Wedding on their estate. Both Al and his wife Cathie personally select, with the help of Balboa Naval Hospital, a deserving couple that will receive an entirely free wedding celebration with a private ceremony and reception on the grounds of their wedding estates. With the support of the local Wedding Professionals and the Community, the Ransom’s are able to give these amazing couples the wedding of their dreams.