Comcast NBCUniversal recognizes the extraordinary sacrifice that members of the military make to serve and protect our country. The Company also appreciates that military service impacts more than those who wear a uniform and include parents, siblings, and friends. As part of our effort to express our gratitude and support the greater military community during Military Appreciation Month, our colleague at Telemundo, Cynthia Garcia, agreed to share her story. As a Gold Star mother, Cynthia honors her son Adam’s memory by bringing comfort to other military and veterans’ families.
My son, Adam, was always sticking up for other people. When 9/11 happened, he was just sixteen, but he felt a calling to do something to protect his country. He wanted to become a police officer like his father, Joe, but he couldn’t apply until he was twenty-one. Instead, at eighteen, he enlisted in the Army. Eventually, he became a combat engineer with the 10th Mountain Division. Joe and I were so proud of him.
In August 2005, Adam’s unit was deployed to Iraq. He was twenty and the war was about two years in. Joe and I worried about him every day. That Christmas, we were so lucky because he was able to come home to visit. I asked him if being in the war was tough, like you see in the movies, and if he was scared. He said it was hard, but not like the movies. He also said he wasn’t scared. “If you’re not scared of being at war,” I asked, “then what are you afraid of?” He thought for a minute. “You know what I’m most scared of, mom? That people won’t remember me.” I promised, as his mother, that was never going to happen.
Nine months later, May 22, 2006, we got the phone call that no military parent ever wants to receive. While on a mission in Baghdad, Adam had been badly injured and he was being transported to Landstuhl, Germany. We were told to get there as soon as possible. Joe and I, and our daughter, Danielle, who was just twelve at the time, went almost straight to the airport. On the plane, I realized we hadn’t planned anything. I had no idea where we were going to stay. We figured we’d just sleep on the floor at the hospital if we had to.
When we arrived, we learned Adam’s injuries were grave. We spent a couple of days in Germany and then he was flown to Bethesda. We didn’t have to sleep on the floor at either hospital though. Instead, we were taken to Fisher Houses. If you’ve never heard of a Fisher House before, it’s like a home away from home for families of soldiers and veterans who are receiving medical treatment. There are eighty-six of them worldwide, but most are in the United States.
Fisher Houses are comfortable places where families can stay without having to pay for hotels. You also don’t have to worry about food, because the refrigerators are filled by volunteers. Staying at the Fisher House was a big relief to us, because the hospitals were not great places for Danielle. We had difficult decisions to make with the doctors. Sometimes, it was best to have her stay at the Fisher House with a military escort. I remember Danielle said, “Mom, there’s nothing to do,” (at the Fisher House) but we were dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Adam died on May 27, 2006. We buried him at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
Many years later, while working as an assignment editor at Telemundo 39, I went to a volunteer veteran group meeting. It’s an initiative at Comcast called VetNet. Someone said, “We need to come up with a good project.” I remembered what Danielle had said about not having enough for a kid to do at the Fisher Houses. I suggested we could call the local Fisher House in Dallas and ask permission to put some toys and books in a 10’ x 10’ corner somewhere. Everyone was so supportive of the idea. The team put a donation box in the café that said: “Book Donations for Fisher House.”
What happened next was unbelievable. People didn’t just fill up one box. They filled up multiple boxes with coloring books, DVDs, board games, and toys. We bought some shelves and bean bag chairs and installed everything as a team. I put a picture of Adam in that corner. I imagined him sitting there, playing his Nintendo.
Months later, I went to Comcast’s headquarters in Philadelphia for a meeting and met some other VetNet volunteers. I told them about the “Adam’s Corner” we had just installed. They perked up right away. Joe Wong, who works in HR, said, “I would love to help get more Adam’s Corners installed at other Fisher Houses.” I thought, well that’s a big dream, but when the Comcast NBCUniversal family puts their minds together watch out. There are now around 10 “Adam’s Corners” in different Fisher Houses across the country with plans to announce new ones soon.
This experience has been amazing to me and my family. I’m profoundly grateful for all the work that employees and VetNet members, many of whom I’ve never even met, have put into this effort. I promised Adam he would never be forgotten. Now, because of the help of so many people at Comcast NBCUniversal, his name lives on. That one little soldier, my brave son, he started this whole thing. I hope our project inspires others to do something too. There are so many soldiers who served and we should never forget.
If you’d like to support Adam’s Corner, then please visit the Fisher House website at https://www.fisherhouse.org/ways-to-give/