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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

Luke's Wings Fundraising Mission

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

This is a guest blog post and is being posted with permission from Beacon Design.

Luke’s Wings fundraising mission is nothing less than amazing and inspiring. They started working with us at Beacon Design four years ago in effort to raise funds for their organization. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing, Dakota Bierly, their Director of Development. We are honored to share their story and how we have been able to help with their fundraising efforts.

About Luke’s Wings Fundraising Mission

First, let me begin by filling you in on Luke’s Wings mission. They are a small non-profit organization of only five staff members making a big difference. Their mission supports wounded, ill and injured service members by providing their families with the means to visit during their recovery and rehabilitation.

The idea for Luke’s Wings began in 2008 when the co-founder, Sarah Wingfield, met service member, Luke Shirley. Luke was a recent amputee recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after losing his arm and leg in Iraq. Instantly, the founder recognized Luke’s mood drastically changed when his Mother walked into the room. As Sarah spoke to the family, she learned his Mother was not able to visit very often because she was unable to afford the trips back and forth. At the time, the government only provided three flights to go visit wounded family members.  As a result, the idea of Luke’s Wings was created with the dream of helping other families like Luke and his Mother.

Dakota explained how originally, the organization (located in Washington, DC) started by flying loved ones in and out of primarily Walter Reed. In 2008, they provided 19 complimentary flights and by 2018, Luke’s Wings delivered over 700 flights! For Dakota, working at Luke’s Wings is far from “just a job”. Dakota comes from a background of friends and family in the military. Her father served in the Marine Corps and her boyfriend was an active duty Marine. In addition, her cousin was serving in Afghanistan at the time she joined the organization. For this reason, she said “It was a very personal mission and hit really close to my heart, I felt I had to be part of this team”.

Our Partnership with Luke’s Wings

Luke’s Wings began working with us at Beacon Design about four years ago. The program director had heard about our company and felt creating an annual ornament would be a nice fundraising source. Each year, we work with the organization to design their annual ornaments for their No Soldiers Spend Christmas Alone campaign.

The No Soldier Spend Christmas Alone campaign ensures that anyone recovering at a military hospital will never spend Christmas alone. Part of this campaign is that donors can give $50 and receive the annual Luke’s Wings ornament. Dakota mentioned that this campaign now has hundreds of donors who take part and all of the funds go directly to the flights that Luke’s Wings are booking for families each holiday. She said that donors have begun calling each year looking to donate their money and collect their ornament. In addition, Luke’s Wings also use the ornaments to send as a thank you to the families they’ve worked with.

As for our continued partnership Dakota says, “It’s nice that our sales rep at Beacon Design has a passion for this too. We have to go back and forth a lot and we are thankful that someone can take our idea and make it a reality each year.”

The Future of the Luke’s Wings Fundraising Mission

By the end of 2019, Luke’s Wings is on track for 1,000 flights. Dakota and her team’s goal is to consistently provide at least 1,000 flights in the years to come. She says that the organization has had to adapt their mission to not just those directly off the front line, but others who have been wounded for years. Furthermore, Luke’s Wings mission recognizes updates in technology like prosthetics or new treatments that a service member may need to go through. In addition to, helping veterans who are passing away by providing flights to their loved ones to give them valuable time together.

One of the more challenging parts of their mission is that many don’t understand there is still such a need for their service. Dakota says that “Though we may not see it on the news as often, there is still such a need on so many levels.” She wants others to understand that there remains so many men and women getting injured while on active duty.

As we end our conversation, Dakota shares that the most rewarding part of her job is getting to know the families. She enjoys hearing their calls and loves when she has the opportunity to meet the families. Dakota recently went to a wedding of one of their beneficiaries and those moments make her job even more special. She says her team’s goals for the future are to continue growing their presence and increasing funds to support the flights they provide. Luke’s Wings will not give up on striving to grow and will continue to make an impact for the families.



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