Select members of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Fellowship Program thought they were simply tuning in to this morning’s TODAY Show segment to celebrate military caregivers. However, co-anchors, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin, and Carson Daly had bigger plans. They surprised each of this year’s 225 Fellows with a free laptop and a year of free Internet Essentials service for eligible families.

As a Dole Foundation Ambassador, Guthrie has long supported the organization to help strengthen and empower America’s 5.5 million military caregivers, known as Hidden Heroes.

Caregiver, Caira Benson of Cocoa Beach, Florida, explained that the isolation and frustration she often felt as a caregiver to her veteran husband became more manageable once she joined the Dole Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Program, providing her a much-needed support network.

“It’s been life-changing. There’s a camaraderie that comes in the darkest hours,” Benson said. She also delivered advice to her fellow caregivers. “Don't give up, even if you have to take it minute by minute, step by step, even if you cannot see the finish line. Know that you don't have to do it alone. We’ll be there to help you along when you need it.”

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation launched the Fellowship Program for caregivers, like Benson, to give this military community a voice, with members now representing all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The Foundation works to bring awareness of the many challenges hidden heroes face while caring for a wounded, ill, or injured service member or veteran.

These challenges have undoubtedly been further complicated this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening the health and financial wellness of military caregivers and their families. Now, more than ever, military caregiver families depend on resources they can access through the Internet such as telemedicine, physical therapy, education, workforce development, and connecting with others for social and emotional support.

Earlier this month, Comcast and Internet Essentials teamed up with TODAY’s Craig Melvin to announce a similar surprise for the McKeesport, Pennsylvania school district.