Podcast Transcript

Greg:
Hello, and welcome to the Imagine That podcast. I’m your host, Greg Weimer, founder, partner, and wealth
manager at Confluence Financial Partners. Each month, we’ll explore new ways to help you maximize your
life and your legacy and meet some extraordinary people along the way. So if you’re looking to get more out
of your life today and legacy tomorrow, let’s get started.
Welcome to the second part of our two-part episode on Folds of Honor. If you listened to the first part, you
know all about Folds of Honor and the important work they do. We met Crystal Popella and she shared her
experience and why she founded the Western Pennsylvania chapter of the organization.
Today, Tiffany will help us understand exactly why an organization like Folds of Honor means so much.
Because Tiffany is a Gold Star wife. Her husband, Andy, gave the ultimate sacrifice so all of us could
continue to live in freedom. Andy was killed in action in Iraq. Tiffany was generous enough to share her
remarkable story with us and it is my honor to introduce her to our listeners.
Tiffany:
I’m one of thousands and of a group that I wish never was, but it’s my honor and privilege to be Andy’s wife.
And to be the one that was left behind to carry on his light. And I can say a hundred percent, my life has, the
trajectory of my entire life has been changed because of the vision that Dan Rooney had that day.
Greg:
Tiffany, if you could give your story just to help everybody understand, and this is one of 35,000. But if you
could just give your story and talk about, you know, how freedom really isn’t free and the price that your
family has paid.
Tiffany:
I met Andy Eckert on September 19th of 2002. And I’ll never forget the first time I looked him in the eye. The
piercing blue eyes, the same blue eyes that our children Marley and Myles have, which is the greatest gift.
But also some days just stings, you know? He knew from the minute we met that I was his forever. We met
up the next day and we spent the whole evening together. And when it came time to part, we were sitting on
his front step and he said, Tiffany, I need to tell you something. And you might never wanna talk to me again.
But if you could just hear me out, I have something I wanna share with you. And the long and short of it, he,
again, so intentionally looked me right in the eye, and he said, I know that when I met you last night, I met my
wife. I called my mom at four in the morning and I told her, I met Tiffany, I’m gonna marry her.
I’ve told all of my friends that I met my wife. And he said, and I know after January 1st of this upcoming year,
I’m gonna have to go away with the military. And I don’t know when, how, where or why, but I know I’m
gonna leave. And when I leave, you’ll be my wife. And it was really strange at that point in my life, I was so
young and I thought I had everything planned out. And this was 100 percent a contradiction to everything I
thought that was mapped for me and everything I wanted. But at the same time, it felt so natural. And it
wasn’t just because it was there. It was, it was Andy. It was as if, you know, that moment that we met the
night previous, it was like our souls had already met. We already knew each other. There was just this
perfect harmony, this, this ameshed feeling that I’ve never felt with anybody besides my children. It was
meant to be. And so I looked at him and I said, OK, I believe you. And he was right. Was a handful of months
down the road, February 24, 2003, he got activated to go and be part of the initial wave in the first
occupation of OIF which is Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I wasn’t with him when he got the call. But I got to our apartment and I walked through the door and he’d just
sobbing. His face was soaked in tears, his blue, blue eyes, the, the backdrop behind him was just these
blood-stained eyes. And he looked up at me and he ran over and he dropped to his knees and he put arms
around me and he said, I’m so sorry, our baby is not gonna know who I am. Because we had just found out I
was pregnant. And at the time we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl. And I grabbed him on either
side of his face. And I looked at him just like, he always looked at me with such intention and conviction. And
I said, no, I promise, no matter what happens, this baby’s gonna know exactly who you are. I promise.
And then just as nontraditional, as every other part of our relationship, he stood on both feet and looked me
right in the eye, standing, and said, don’t answer me now. I have to go away for a couple of days to do some
paperwork. But when I come back, I want you to marry me. But don’t, don’t answer me right now. And he
went away for a couple days. And when he came back, we went down to the Lucas County courthouse in
Toledo, Ohio. And we got married in a hallway by a stranger and I was wearing jeans. And you look at the
pictures, which we only have one. And Andy was so happy that if he had smiled any wider, his face would’ve
cracked. And I looked terrified, which I was. OK? I was 21. I was pregnant. I was confident that my husband
probably was gonna miss the birth of our first child and my entire pregnancy, which I was right.
And I, I knew that I loved this person more than I’d ever loved anything in my entire life. And then he was
going to war and also in the pictures, you’ll notice Andy had gone out that morning and he took horticulture
in high school. And so flowers and any type of greenery was very important to him. He went out and he got a
pale pink gerber daisy with some hot pink gerber daisies and had them put in a little bouquet. And I was like,
that’s so silly. Why would I take that to the courthouse? He said, you have to, there’s one flower for each of
us: me, you and the baby. And three means, I love you. And I can’t do much for you and this isn’t the
wedding you deserve, but I want you to hold these. And I did. And gerber daisies have become such a pivotal
point in the whole timeline of our story in that, two years, two months and 11 days later, when all of us were
gathered, as Andy was being lowered into the ground, graveside, every single person that was there,
hundreds and hundreds of hot pink and pale pink gerber daisies were placed on top of his casket.
And in all of these years, since we’ve lost Andy, for every special occasion, for every school dance that he’s
missed, for every major event, my children Marley and Myles both receive pale pink or hot pink gerber
daisies. And every now and again, anonymously hot pink gerber daisies will show up at the grave or on my
front porch. I don’t know who puts them there, but I know that ultimately, it’s Andy doing it. So after we got
married on February 28th, it was less than a week later he left for his first tour. On March 6th. And he was
on a 17-month deployment. And just like we both feared, he did not get to come and see Marley born in July.
She was born on July 17th, 2003. It was one of the most wonderful and heartbreaking days of my life. I
never said anything to anyone, but the whole time, all I wanted was to hear Andy’s voice.
And I was in labor for way longer than I should have been. It wasn’t until almost two days later after he got
his Red Cross message that I had gone into labor, that Andy was able to call me on a satellite phone from the
desert to tell me that he loved me. And that’s all I needed. The call was less than two minutes because
things were so tough then. The satellite phone dropped the call, but he was able to tell me, I’m sorry, I’m not
there. I love, you know that I’m with you, I’m in your heart. I’m so proud of you. You can do this. And then
shortly after that, it was like, I felt this release and I was able to give birth to Marley. And I’ll never forget the
first time I met her, she was placed and I was so tired, but I looked down at her and I said, oh, there you are.
I’m happy to meet you, Marley Freedom. I love you. And so does daddy. And then this beautiful moment was
occurring. And my dad goes, Freedom? Marley Freedom? What? That’s not her name. I said, yeah, it is. And
then I explained to my dad, Andy’s not here. And when Marley looks back at the pictures from when she was
born, I want her and her dad, most importantly, but I want everybody to know the reason he is not in the
pictures wasn’t because he didn’t want to be, but because he’s fighting for her freedom, my freedom, your
freedom. Her name is Marley Freedom. And I think she has the coolest name in the world. And her dad
thought so too. So it all worked out and it ended up being almost prophetic, truly that she had that name that
she has. Andy got to come home when she was 11 months old to meet her in April of 2004.
And when he came home, he was a purple heart veteran who had been deemed non-deployable. He never
had to go back to conflict again, ever. He still had shrapnel in his face, he still had shrapnel in his shoulder.
And he narrowly missed never coming home to us. He had been impacted by an IED explosion on March
15th, 2004. And the piece that was meant to take his life missed by a centimeter, missed his jugular. And e
was saved in that moment. He was able to home to us. It was just a handful of months later down the road. I
was at his Army Reserve unit because I was the family readiness leader for his company. And he came to the
room that I was in and I knew something was up. And he sat down and he put his hand on my knee and he
said, babe, they said, if I signed a waiver, I can go back. You know, my unit just got activated and these are
all the guys that I went to Basic and AIT with. And I don’t wanna leave you again. But I need to go. And you
don’t have to say yes, and I’m not begging you to say yes. But this is very important to me. And I believe this
is what I’m supposed to do. And at that time we had just found out I was pregnant with Myles, so here we
were again about repeat history. Here I was so young, 22 years old. And I l looked at him and I said, this is
not what I want, but I could never tell you no. If this is what you feel like you’re supposed to do, then yes, you
can sign the waiver. I will support you. But when you come home, I can’t do this again. And he said, I
promise, I’m gonna make it home. And we’ll be America’s dream team. We’ll just get through this one more
time. So I went with him, and I watched him as he signed the waiver. And coincidentally, every other soldier
that had been deployed in OIF1 that didn’t have to go again, not because they were injured but because of
the timeline. His brothers went and they signed waivers too.
And they went back together. They left for that deployment in OIF3 on Christmas Day, 2004. The only
Christmas we ever spent together was in a hotel room in Indiana. I still have the little, tiny tree in the tiny blue
ornaments, blue and silver bulbs that I bought at Walmart for Marley’s first and only Christmas ever with her
dad. And the only Christmas that we spent together as a family. And, you know, that’s what families like ours
do is they make the most of what moments they’re given. And they’re the grandest moments. We were in a
hotel room. We weren’t in a huge house with a huge tree and tons and tons of gifts, but we had each other
and that’s all that mattered. And those are the things that I try to tell people about and share with them. The
moments that matter most in life are the ones that you don’t even realize they’re your first or your last until
it’s over.
We sent Andy away on Christmas day and he called me, Myles was born in March and he called me about a
week before I was due. And he said, Hey, I’m in Kuwait. I think I’m gonna get to come home, but I don’t
know yet, but I think I’m gonna get to come home and see Myles born. And he said, I’ll call you as soon as I
can. And day after day after day passed, there was no call. And I was ready to have that boy. I had a cracked
pelvis and I called my doctor on Thursday of that week. And I said, listen, I can’t be pregnant one more day. I
am miserable. I don’t think I can walk anymore. I don’t know where my husband is. I did this once without
him. I can do it again. I think he’s on his way home.
I don’t know, but I can’t physically do this anymore. And he said, OK, we’ll induce you tomorrow. Tomorrow
came. It was Friday the 25th of March 2005. I got a call that morning and it was Andy. He said, Hey. I said
where the heck have you been, I haven’t from you for a week? What’re you doing? He’s like, I don’t think I’m
gonna get to come home, I’m really sorry. I said, well, I’m having this baby tonight. And he goes, just kidding.
I’m in Chicago. Can you at 10 AM from the Toledo airport? So he made it just in the nick of time and as fate
would have it. I didn’t need to be induced. I went into labor on my own that night. And Andy got to be home
for 14 days. It was the greatest 14 days that I’ve ever had ever. The only time that my family was together
complete as a family of four. And oftentimes I’ll recount the fact that I have one picture of all four of us
together.
And that is in the moment at the hospital when Marley was brought up to meet Myles. And that’s important.
And I, I share that often because oftentimes especially moms, we like to hide behind the camera. We like to
deny the opportunity to be in pictures because we think we don’t look good enough. Our hair is a mess, our
body isn’t right. And we forgo the opportunity to be in these lasting memories. And so to anyone listening, I
would say, any chance you have to in a picture with your loved ones, your children, your spouse, anybody
important to you — you need to seize that moment and that opportunity. Because I literally have one picture
of my family together, only one. And none of us are looking at the camera. It’s a beautiful moment, we’re all
looking at each other. And I’m thankful for that. But I wish I had more because at the end of the day, when
someone’s gone, they’re gone. Death is permanent. And one day all you’re going have is photos and
memories and what you’ve stored in your mind.
So like I said, Andy was home for 14 days, greatest 14 days ever. Every morning I woke up and Andy and
Marley were sitting at the kitchen table, eating either Froot Loops or Lucky Charms talking to each other. And
she had crooked pigtails on her head. And the neatest part I found out about this after Andy had been killed
was that the weeks leading up to coming home to see Myles born, he had deployed his fellow female soldiers
to teach him how to braid just in case Marley’s hair was long enough to do so, which it wasn’t, but he figured
out how to get her piggies in and they were crooked and they were perfect. And that is one of my favorite
memories of my husband. He was so intentional and thoughtful and he planned everything out and he tried to
do the best he could.
And he was present, although he was an 11-hour time difference. And so many thousands of miles away,
Andy was a part of our every day because I promised him in that moment on February 24th, 2003, when he
was deployed the first time that our kids would know who he was. And he promised from the moment I met
him, that he would be there a hundred percent. And he was. Last time I ever saw Andy alive was the
beginning of April 2005 at the Toledo Lucas County Airport. Andy looked at me when we were standing there
waiting to give the TSA agent his ID. Tears streaming down his face similar to the day he’d been deployed.
And there’s a lot of things I don’t tell anyone. And I’ll only ever share with my kids, but oftentimes I do
recount certain moments from this time. And that is that he looked at me and he said, this is the last time I’m
ever gonna see you. I know I’m not coming home.
I know I’ll never be here again. And I’m very sorry, but I know that you can do this. And know that I’ll be with
you every day and that I love you and I’m proud of you. And I support every decision you make. It’ll be the
right one. Then he looked the lady who was standing at the podium and he said, this is my wife, Tiffany.
She’s the smartest, most beautiful woman in the world and the mother of my children. And this is Marley and
this is Myles. These are my kids. And I love them so much. And you could see she kinda teared up a little
and handed him his ID back and said yes sir. And then he walked in the line and kept every five feet or so, he
would stop and turn around, and wave to us. He’d walk and he’d stop and he’d turn around and wave to us
until we couldn’t see him anymore. And that’s the last time I ever saw Andy alive.
It was on Mother’s Day 2005, May 8th. I woke up and it wasn’t the same wakeup that I’d had every day since
Myles was born and Andy was back in country. Every day without fail between three and four in the morning,
Andy would call me and be like, babe, what are you doing? And I’d be like, well I was sleeping. That call did
not come that day. Never came. I went about my day for the first few hours and all of my friends called. The
other girls that had their soldiers deployed with Andy. And I remember telling my friend, Aubrey, I said,
something’s wrong. I know something’s wrong with Andy, something’s happened. And she said, no, no, no.
They’re probably on lockdown. As soon as they can get to the phones, you know Andy will be the first in line,
he’s gonna call, it’s Mother’s Day. He’ll be the first in line. And I said, no, Aubrey, I know something’s wrong.
And it was about an hour and a half later, I got to Andy’s foster parents’ house, they had raised him until the
end of high school so that he could graduate. And I just said to his foster mom, something’s wrong. I think
something’s happened to Andy. And then my phone started ringing and the phone calls were toggling back
and forth between Southfield, Michigan, where there was a soldier who was attached to Andy’s unit and
Dover, which if you’re getting calls from Dover, that’s not a good sign. That’s where casualty operations
come through. And the one guy said, I just need to know where you are Miss Eckert. I just need to know
where you are. They didn’t have the correct address for us.
And then when I got on the line with Dover the second time I said to the woman, ma’am, is my husband
dead? And she paused for what felt like a really long time, but it probably wasn’t and she said, I, I need to
know where you are, Mrs. Eckert. And then it was about an hour later, a military vehicle pulled up in the
driveway and I was sitting on a rock at the end of the sidewalk. And when only one got out, I thought, okay,
he’s just injured. So we’re gonna go to Germany and bring him home and we’re gonna figure it out. It’s
gonna be fine. And you know, I don’t remember that gentleman’s name. I couldn’t pick him out of a crowd,
but if I ever saw his eyes again, I would know, I would know exactly who he was, cuz that’s what I was
staring at the whole time he was speaking. And I remember every word he said. And when I walked away
from him and oftentimes people in our situation, they imagine what would happen if I was notified.
And I’m sure just regular people may be watching movies where there’s a notification and they think, oh,
what would I do if I found out someone had been killed? Well I walked up the sidewalk and at that time I’d
had time to call my friends in the area, my military friends and they were sitting on the porch and everyone
said what happened? And all I could say was Andy passed away today. And I walked up the steps and I
walked away from everyone. And I sat on a bench all by myself on the opposite side of the porch. I remember
putting my heads in my, my head in my hands. And I said, I can’t do this. I can’t, I can’t do this. And I started
to cry and my friend came over, her mom and she smacked leg really hard, which was good because she
woke me up out of whatever I was at the moment, and she said, oh Tiffany, yes you will and yes you can.
And she grabbed me by my chin and she turned my face very aggressively towards the other end of the
porch. And all I could see were Marley and Myles. And she said, yes, you can. And yes, you will because
those babies need you. You have to get up every day and you have to do this.
You have to do this, Tiffany. And I stood up. And I have never stopped standing. There was never a single day
that I didn’t get outta bed because Marley and Myles needed me. There was never a single day that I felt
sorry for myself to the point where I couldn’t function because Marley and Myles needed me. And I have
stood every second of every single day that has passed in the last 17 years since losing Andy. And I would
listen that if you have the opportunity to be a Miss Terry for someone, do it. Just like Dan had the opportunity
to see out that window and see what he saw that has changed everything and started Folds of Honor. You
have opportunities to be Miss Terry for someone, you just have to be awake. You just have to be aware. You
have to be there for people. Life isn’t about you. You have one chance, one opportunity. Stop being selfish
and be there in moments where you could be the only person. Ms. Terry changed the trajectory of my life.
100%. I wouldn’t have made it this far. If she hadn’t been there with me in that moment. And I could recount
so many memories and so many things that to some, you would say, you would classify them as
heartbreaking. But for me, I would say, don’t let your heart be broken over the trauma I’ve experienced.
However, when you hear stories like mine, let your heart bend, let your heart bend so that you can make a
positive change and gain new perspective for your life and the opportunity that you’ve been given to live. You
know, I was 23 when Andy died, he was 24. Marley was 20 months old and Myles was one month old. This
Mother’s Day, May 8th will be 17 years since Andy died. And it just so happens, I believe it’s the third time
that May 8th has fallen on Mother’s Day again, since he died.
And I would say in all these years, I’m 40 now. I’m starting to get forehead lines. I’m starting to get crow’s
feet. I’m starting to get gray hair. I’m a little overweight. But you know what? I am so thankful for that
opportunity. And the perspective that life is short and my husband will always, always be 24. He did not get
to age. We were supposed to grow old together. I wanted to watch get laugh lines and I wanted to watch his
hair shift from black to silver. But that didn’t happen. And so I would say to people listening, embrace who
you are in this moment because you get to be in this moment because of fate. And also because of people
like Andy, who are willing to die for you, does that make sense?
Greg:
You are amazing. We just need to breathe. I think, candidly, I wanna say thank you. It feels shallow. It’s not
enough. You just need to know we’re grateful. I don’t think that’s enough. I just would say that what we all
can do is just never forget that freedom isn’t free. Never forget Tiffany’s story. Never forget Andy’s story.
Let’s realize the sacrifice that a very small percentage of people make so we can live our lives. There was so
much in there. I wrote like moments. I think you said moments don’t ha— like you don’t realize they’re
special moments until you look back on ’em. You’re not always aware pictures, pictures. I was at a surprise
party on Saturday and they’re all the pictures I’m like, wow.
The pictures of this gentleman, who’s a really good friend of mine and his family, I thought were awesome.
Ms. Terry, there should be a, there should be a national Ms. Terry award, right? I mean that Ms. Terry, I
mean, just be Ms. Terry. That also like listening to you when she turns your chin to your children, it shows
you whether you’re talking about Andy, Tiffany or Crystal, how powerful life can be when you actually focus
on other people. One of my questions was it was gonna be like, how do you stay strong every day? How do
you stand up every day? How do you stay so positive and committed to Andy’s legacy? But you answered it.
Tiffany:
Well there’s more too. I would say, well, for me personally another very, very valid point is I never got to say
goodbye to my husband and every single thing I do every single day, especially this work, this is how I say, I
love you to Andy. This is my tangible way. This work and the way I live my life and the way I treat people now,
I’m not perfect. Some, some days I have bad days or I get frustrated, but for the most part, I am genuinely
very giving, very forgiving, very intentional, very present. And it all goes back to the fact that I will never have
closure. I’m not getting to say goodbye. And I will never hear back at this point in my life, or for the last 17
years. I love you too, Tiff. I have to seek it out if that makes sense.
So especially in regards to any work I do with the military and awareness around the Gold Star community
and Folds of Honor. And anytime I tell our story, this is how I tell Andy, I love you. And this is how I show
Marley and Myles that Andy and I loved each other. And we loved them. Because, you know, I’ve said for
years, I lost a lot and this was very traumatic. You know, I was when your frontal lobe isn’t even fully formed
till you’re 25 years old. So a lot of things happened before I was medically fully sound, if that makes sense.
This is truly how I make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. Andy was
wonderful. He would’ve been the best dad ever. He would’ve been the best coach ever. He would’ve been all
the things. You know, Marley has never heard her dad say, you’re beautiful. I love you. Now I tell her that
every day, more than she’d like to hear. Enough for three people let alone just him and I. Myles has never
thrown a ball with him. You know, I, I try to be, fill the void, but I can’t. I promised Andy, our kids would know
him. It always goes back to that promise. And I promised Andy that I would love him forever, which I will.
Greg:
So Tiffany, incredible. Could you make the connection between your incredible story and what education
meant to Andy to you and how Folds of Honor have helped you fulfill that mission?
Tiffany:
Yes. So the night before Andy was killed, within hours of his death, he called home. And again, he said many
things. I don’t share everything. He did reiterate again that he knew he wasn’t coming home. And the last
conversation we ever had was in regard to, Andy thought I was the smartest most wonderful person he ever
knew. And he knew that I needed to go to school. And he, he said, I know it might take a while because the
kids are young, but no matter what you need to get an education, it’s very important. And our kids need to
have an education, that’s very important to me. I need you to promise that that’s gonna happen. And I
agreed, and it’s taken a long time for me personally, to go back to school, but in the fall of 2020, in the crux
of the pandemic, I decided to quit my job and go back to school. And in doing so, not only am I fulfilling that
final and last promise, which I was putting it off because it’s the last promise I ever made to him.
And there’s a big sense of finality in that. The last thing you’re hanging onto, you know, that’s over. But I’m,
I’m glad I’m in school. I’m, I’m full-time in college and I’m doing very well, but number one, I’m, I’m filling
that promise. But also, I found healing. My major is human development and family studies with a minor in
gerontology. So my major is the study of human development across the lifespan, which has provided me
with an intense amount of healing in regard to my childhood, as well as the trauma of losing my husband at
such a young age. And it has helped me to be a better person. When I say I have found healing, 100% I have
truly found healing and that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t go back to school. And Folds of Honor has
provided that opportunity for me. Additionally, my children have been recipients for several years.
Marley is now 18 years old. She graduates in just a couple of weeks and she has been able to go to a private
high school for the last four years where she has excelled. Her cumulative GPA has been above a 4.0 for the
last four years. She applied to multiple colleges and was accepted into every single one. Some big colleges
too. She’s in the National Honor Society. She’s the captain of her rowing team. You know, she’s done a lot of
amazing things, which she wouldn’t have done if she wasn’t at the school she was at. She just told me this
weekend, she declared yesterday, which was the college decision day. She’s decided to stay close to home. I
had a different idea of where I wanted her to go, but ultimately is her decision and she and I will be at the
same college in the fall.
And now I’m hoping we take Spanish together because I’m gonna need a study buddy. So that’s really
special. And then my son, Myles, he is 17. He is a junior in high school and you know, school comes easy for
some and for others, it doesn’t. And oftentimes people forget that everyone has different skill. Now, when I
look at my son, I have always seen this amazing young man who has so much to offer the world, but school’s
been a struggle for him. Since kindergarten. And I remember when he was very young sitting in a meeting
and I was told, you know, he’s got a lot of challenges you should probably come up with a less traditional
plan for him. College might not be in his future. And I said, oh, I beg to differ. I’m pretty sure if he wants to go
to college, he’s gonna go to college.
And here we are, for the last several years, Myles has utilized his Folds of Honor scholarship for private
tutoring, which has put him in a place that I was told. He’d never be and ending his junior year, for him,
Myles has an excellent GPA and it’s looking like he won’t have to go full day for senior year next year. And he
will also be going to the same college that Marley and myself are at. So that will be a fun time.
Greg:
Wow. <Laugh>
Tiffany:
And it of first and foremost, it’s because I love my kids that they have succeeded so well, but also because
Folds of Honor has come in, locked arms and shown us the support and love and additional resources that
we need in order to be successful in regard to our education. And I would say, and I say this every time I
speak, you’re not giving a donation to Folds of Honor.
That’s not how I view it. I view it as an investment. And oftentimes people wanna see the return on their
investments. And to that, I would say, you may not see it because our group, unfortunately, is bigger than it
should be. However, every night when you crawl into bed or every day as you walk around in life and you’re
covered by that blanket of freedom, that is where you find your return. That is where you find the return on
your investment. And it’s immeasurable. You cannot go wrong by providing anybody an education, especially
children like Marley and Myles or spouses like myself. You cannot go wrong by giving someone the gift of
learning and a debt free education.
Greg:
Tiffany, we’re in the investment business, but you’re one of the best investments I think anybody could ever
wanna make. <Laugh>
Greg:
Tiffany or Crystal who would like to step up and tell this story that I think is one of the best stories I’ve ever
heard about being awake about major Dan Rooney. Who’s got it?
Tiffany:
The long, long and short of it is Dan was on a flight and the pilot came over the speaker and asked that they
remained seated because they had hero traveling on board. And he was looking out the side window. He, he
describes it as I believe, a starry night, looking out the window. And he watched as Brock Buckland’s body
was rolled out from underneath the cargo area of the plane. And he watched this entire scene unfold where
Brock’s small son was standing there and they received his remains. And when he turned back around, after
watching everything play out, most of the people on the plane had gotten up and gotten off the plane and
disregarded the message that had come over. And in that moment, he had this pivotal, I would describe it
from hearing the story so many times firsthand and via the video.
He had this awakening. This call to action, where he knew he had to do something as an American, as a
veteran, just as a general human being. He had to do something to change what had happened. And I will
say, hundred percent, in all of the years that have passed since he experienced that epiphany, he has made
a huge sweeper wave of change for my, the community that myself and my children are a part of. And I
believe the ripple effect is immeasurable. What he’s been able to accomplish because he was awake and he
was cognizant. And he was aware in that moment where other people were selfish and didn’t care and were
in a rush. And couldn’t take five minutes to show reverence to one of our fallen.
Greg:
The reality is I ask everybody to listen to it again and take notes. And I think there’s so many lessons in there
on great investments we can make, and gratitude we can have, and pictures we can take. I remember on my
wedding night, there was a manager of the brokerage firm I was at that day. And he said he gave me a $50
bill, which was like back then a trillion. And he gave me a $50 bill. And he said, I’m gonna give you this $50
bill, as long as you do one thing. And he said, make sure you kiss Lori before you go to bed every night and
tell her you love her. And, you know, he was that Mrs. Terry for me that day. And Tiffany, thank you for
reminding me of that today. You, you really are a remarkable person.
Tiffany:
Thank you for receiving it, man. I’m just an ordinary person. Who’s been through some extraordinary things
and I’m trying to make the most of my life, which is what we should all be doing. We just have to do better
and be better. So thank you for being open.
Greg:
I think you just did a pretty good job of explaining a hero but thank you for that explanation. I think it’s pretty
well done.
Tiffany:
Well, too, I would say, I know you’re in the financial business. And so a lot of people listening are in realm,
but not everybody has the same skillsets or resources. So I would to anyone listening in the off chance that
doesn’t have the financial resources to support. Oftentimes people ask, well, what can I do? I’m just, what,
what can I do if I don’t have money to give? And I would say, for me personally, I would never ask you for
anything, regardless of who you are or what resources you have. However, at the end of the day, if you really
wanna know what I personally, as a surviving spouse of a soldier who was killed in action, and the mother of
two kids that were left behind, what I think is: you need to just be a better person, be awake like Dan was. Be
there like Miss Terry was. Be present every day like I am. Be a better person. If you can’t give money, you
know, there’s other ways. Make your life count for something.
Greg:
Tiffany, would you feel comfortable telling Myles’ story?
Tiffany:
Sure. It was the beginning of February 2014. We had a lot of severe weather in our area and the kids had
had multiple snow days in a row. And we had a day off from school that day, but the weather was nice
enough so that we could go out. And I asked the kids, where do you wanna go? Let’s go to lunch. And they
said, let’s go to Cracker Barrel. And so we were walking in the cracker barrel and unbeknownst to me until
we were in the restaurant, Myles had found $20 in the, in the parking lot. And as we were walking in, he was
like super excited and him and Marley were going back and forth and da-da-da-da-da. And we sat down and
Myles was like, mom, I found $20 in the parking lot, our waitress is getting a really big tip today. I was like,
okay buddy. He was like, don’t worry, I got the tip. I was like, alright buddy. So then, I don’t know, 15
minutes or so later, Frank Dailey walked in with his wife and his grandson.
And he was in uniform because he was airman at the 180th in our area, this Air Force base. And he, he
came in and he sat down and Myles’ eyes were just really big. And he was following him until he sat in his
seat. And then he looked at me and he looked back at Frank and he looked at me. And he said, mom, you’re
gonna have to take care of the waitress, cause I’m gonna buy that guy’s lunch instead. And I said, OK, that’s
fine. And so Myles at, I always have post-it notes and a pen on me because we, typically it would be Marley
and I, but we would leave random notes of kindness or pay it forwards and whatever, just scatter them
throughout our day, whenever we were, anywhere. Always based on being anonymous. And Myles wrote this
note and it said, Dear soldier, my dad was a soldier, I found this $20 in the parking lot when we got here. We
like to pay it forward in our family.
Today is your lucky day. And he signed it Myles Eckert, a Gold Star kid. And he wrapped the 20 up in that
green post-it, and then it took him a while. Cuz Myles is very, very nervous. He’s very shy. And I walked over
with him eventually, cuz he kept trying to go and give it to Frank and he would run over there and run back.
And so finally I walked over there with him and I said, Hey, my son wants to give you this. And he said, Hey,
thanks. And that was that. And we went about the rest of our day. Well I think what had happened was
Frank’s daughter took a picture of the note and posted it online locally. And then all of a sudden, people, you
know, the power of social media and Facebook people were like, oh I know that kid.
And they were tagging me. They were like, Hey, that’s Tiffany, I know them, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it
became just like locally, this organically wild story and local news picked it up. And then before, you know it,
all these outlets were calling and Steve Hartman called and he asked if he could come out and do a story,
which he did. And then it went super mega viral. And we were getting calls from every national outlet. I
mean, I said no to Steve Harvey, Meredith Viera, Good Morning America, all these things. And then Ellen
called and it was partially like Ellen. And then also we were getting so much traction. People were sending
mail to the kids’ school. They were, our, our mail was just insane. People were finding my phone number and
calling. People from all over the world. And I said, we gotta put the brakes on this because I don’t know what
to do. And so I said yes to Ellen because I felt that it was the most mainstream platform to get the word out to
say hey, this is really great and nice.
But if you guys could stop sending stuff to my house or, you know, we were trying to redirect the pay it
forwards to something else. And I’ll tell you, behind the scenes, I’m a single mom and life is, it’s hard to be a
single mom and financially I could have taken advantage of the situation, but I never felt I was supposed to.
Never. And so we paid everything forward. We gave it all away and we directed it to a different charity at the
time that was before we knew what Folds was. And in one initiative in a couple of months we raised 1.8
million. And in the time since, you know, 2014 we’ve raised, I mean, I don’t even know at this point, because
it was never about keeping track, right. And we’ve continued to do things, you know, publicly. And then
obviously still tried to maintain, do anonymous things here and there as we can.
And the beauty of Myles’ story is that it went, I believe so far and wide is because it was genuine. And I feel
that my job all this time has been to be the protector of Myles’ story. And so I said no to things that other
people would’ve said yes to, for personal gain. And I believe that’s truly why it has gone so far and wide. And
literally across the globe and day that the publicist had sent Dan through, Frank called and he said, Tiffany, I
a hundred percent support that you are telling these people, all these people, no, I’m okay with it. He goes,
but if there is one thing that you could please say yes to, there’s this guy and he’s a fighter pilot. You know,
Frank was in the Air Force. He goes, he wants us to come to this outing in Owasso at the Patriot, which is,
you know, the golf, the club.
And he goes, I, you know, in order for me to go, you guys have to go. So could you consider saying yes to
this? I said, well, I’ll give the guy a call. How about that? And I knew, I called Dan Rooney on his cell phone.
And I knew the minute that we were on the phone, that he was genuine, authentic. It was real that he wasn’t
take advantage of my son, or our family, or exploit our story, or exploit Andy or Myles.
And, you know I can’t say enough, enough good things about Dan in particular, but also anybody that I’ve
encountered who is a part of the mission. They, I have not met one person who does not genuinely stand
behind our family and the fact that they’re educating these kids. And I’ll tell you, because of Myles’ story and
the exposure we’ve had and things that I’ve been privy to, it is exceptionally rare. That’s why I’ll always stand
with Folds.
Greg:
To sit here and listen. And just so thankful for your commitment, your sacrifice, the lessons you’ve taught all
the listeners today. You know, when Dan says, who I do not know, Dan Rooney, but just watching him and
learning about him, truly is a hero.
And please everybody, in listening to these stories, let’s remember 1% of our country fights for the freedom
of the other 99%. And let’s make sure we understand that freedom isn’t free. And if we’re ever in a situation
like that airplane, let’s stay seated and let’s give our heroes the respect they’ve earned and deserved. God
bless both of you and God bless our military.
Thank you for listening to the Imagine That podcast. We hope you enjoyed this episode and welcome you to
reach out to Confluence Financial Partners with your questions and comments. If you’d like to hear more
episodes, head over to confluencefp.com/podcasts, or find us wherever you get your podcast.

Some investments serve a higher purpose. In this episode, you’ll learn about Folds of Honor, an organization that gives back to a community to whom we owe an unpayable debt. Since 2007, Folds of Honor has provided scholarships to the families of America’s killed or disabled soldiers. Join host and Confluence Financial Partners CEO, Greg Weimer, as he interviews Gold Star Wife Tiffany Eckert. Tiffany will help us understand exactly why an organization like Folds of Honor means so much, because Tiffany is a Gold Star wife. Her husband, Andy, gave the ultimate sacrifice so all of us could continue to live in freedom. Tiffany was generous enough to share her remarkable story with us and it is our honor to introduce her to our listeners.

To all of our military heroes, veterans, and those like Andy who gave the ultimate sacrifice, we say thank you. We are forever grateful for your service to this great country.

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