Fallen soldier's letter to wife helps her realize dream

Donna Kiernan offers grieving military families hope on 'Survivor Kid's Day'

NEW BERLIN, Texas – For six years, Donna Kiernan cried every day.

Her husband, Chris, was killed in 2007 during his second deployment to Iraq.

Despite getting grief therapy, Kiernan found it hard to carry on.

"People couldn't understand my grief," she said.

But one day, her grief turned to hope when she read a letter that her husband had left her.

"Live out our dream, get some land and raise all the animals we wanted," she said, reading Chris' letter.

Fueled by the letter, Kiernan bought five acres of land in New Berlin and filled it with farm animals.

She had a shrine built in the barn to keep her husband's memory alive.

But despite having the farm, Kiernan still felt something was missing.

So, she decided that once a year, she would open her ranch for children who have lost a parent in war. Kiernan partners with Gold Star Children, a nonprofit that helps raise awareness about children whose mothers or fathers died while serving in the military.

Families from all over Texas travel to the ranch for "Survivor Kid's Day."

"For Donna to host this and have (my son) to be able to mingle with other Gold Star Children is amazing to me," Genevieve Miles, a Marine widow, said.

Bryan Augustus, 12, said he doesn't really remember his father because he died when he was 4 years old. But Bryan said he still misses him.

"There's a bunch of other kids out here who feel the same way, who know what you're going through, so you're never actually alone," Bryan said.

Just like the children who need a special day, Kiernan said it helps her as well.

"The reason I do this, is because it helps me heal and it makes me happy to see them smile," Kiernan said.

You can learn more about "Survivor Kid's Day" by visiting Kiernan's Facebook page.

About the Authors

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Recommended Videos