Monday, April 30, 2007

The beginning of Camp Lejeune

I have needed a few days just to digest just what happened with and FOR Taylor while at Camp Lejeune. I have really struggled, because at times, how do you describe a feeling? How do you describe a look? How do you describe intense emotions?

I will do this as a new entry for each day there. This entry however will be spent a little on Taylor's excitement on getting there, the Maxwell family, Sgt. Coon, the Marines, the Wounded Warriors.

Taylor just couldn't stand the wait to get to where her destination was, Camp Lejeune North Carolina. We had 2 wonderful flights there, but one time, the plane came in and it was windy and as we landed, the plane landed on one side first then went down on the other. I was beyond the color of pure white and I do believe I might of even groaned out loud. Taylor on the other hand, WOOHOO she said. She was way to pumped and way to excited to let a small thing like a huge plane not landing correctly to dull her anticipation. The flights were just not fast enough, as we got closer she kept asking 'is that the base down there?' 'What time is it?' 'Are we close?' over and over again.

The Maxwell family. What an inspiration they all are. They have overcome some incredible things put in their path of life, and that is putting it mildly. They are wonderful caring compassionate people and it was such an honor to be their guests. They made both Taylor and I feel like we were one of the family and they went out of their way to make sure we were happy. Shannon is an amazing woman who I learned some very important things from and I will do my best to make changes in my lifestyle to reflect what she showed me. The kids were the best. Lt. Col. Maxwell, whether you like it or not, you are one of Taylor's Heroes. You put forth such a wonderful example for her to follow and you showed her the true meaning of MARINE. THANK YOU!

Sgt. Matt Coon. He is Taylor's buddy! He made sure that everything was 110% all the time. What a wealth of information, we learned so much from him. He loves what he does for the Marines and for the Wounded Warrior Barracks, and we can tell, he is so respected as well. THANK YOU!

The Marines. WOW! All stops were pulled out for Taylor and there wasn't a person that we came in contact with that didn't show her top notch respect. No one treated her like a sick little child. Each place she got to go to, she got the royal treatment and I do believe, she was the envy of many of the guys there! THANK YOU!

The Wounded Warriors. Again, WOW! I honestly was in awe of them. When we first got there, they were maybe a little shy, but not bad. But as time went on and Taylor spent more time with them, I don't know who was more funny, their reactions to Taylor or Taylor's reactions to was great! They razzed her, they teased her, they treated her just like one of the guys (well except for when we had to make a head call!) I want each one of these Warriors to know something, by your actions, you showed my Wounded Warrior a lesson that only you could show her. I will not spell it all out for everyone to see, but you all that have been wounded, know what that is. From my very heart and soul, THANK YOU!

Through the Maxwell family, Sgt. Coon, The Marine Corps, The Wounded Warriors.....our family grew the week we were with you. We took away so much more then I ever thought. I am not talking about the gifts (although some of them are beyond COOL!) I am talking about the feelings of strength, courage, and hope you gave to us. The feelings of instant bonding and instant friendship that will last a life time. I now know that without hesitation, Taylor will NEVER give up, Taylor will NEVER accept anything less then 100% will, Taylor will ALWAYS fight her fight.

OOH RAH our Marine family and Semper Fi!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Camp Lejeune, incoming

Tomorrow morning, Taylor is on her way to Camp Lejeune. I honestly don't think her little body can take the waiting any longer! She has tried to hard to play it off and be so cool about it, but it is now just after 10:30 p.m. and she has been in bed for an hour and a half, she just got up GLOWING and raised her little hands in the air I CAN'T SLEEP I AM TO EXCITED!

She is kind of worried that 'the guys' will treat her like a little kid. I said 'are you kidding me? Girl, you outrank many of them and you can show them what is what'. Her head clicked forward, her chest puffed out, then in Marine voice she said OOH RAH! LOL I told her she knows tough, and tough is her.

I will keep track of all she does and be sure to report back. Thank you all for sending her good and kind words for her trip!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Today, Taylor was honored for her volunteerism to her country and troops as she received a STAR AWARD today in front of 600 people. There were thousands of nominations, only 10 individuals won and Taylor was one of them. Taylor was the first to come up and as they talked about Taylor and how the Marines rallied around her, there were gasps in the audience. She proudly walked up to get her award to a standing ovation.

Here is what was written in The Kalamazoo Gazette today:

By Emily Monacelli
Special to the Gazette

At 13 years old, Taylor Batten has dedicated her time to showing U.S. military personnel that she supports them.
The Three Rivers teen, winner of this year's Youth Volunteer STAR Award, sends cards, letters, e-mail messages and care packages to soldiers who are stationed overseas. She attends the funerals of fallen soldiers as a member of the Patriot Guard Riders.
She has visited wounded Marines at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. Recently, Taylor held a blanket drive for the troops in Iraq and collected nearly 150 blankets to ship out.
"It just popped into my mind that really anything that the troops get from home helps out a lot with their psychological well-being, and, believe it or not, it gets really cold out there," said the Mendon Junior High School student. "It was just a good idea and it was fun to do."
With all her volunteer activities, Taylor does not seem to be a typical 13-year old girl. Her health problems also set her apart. She has Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal condition characterized by a partially or completely missing second sex chromosome. As a result of her condition, Taylor has impaired visual-spatial functioning, chronic fatigue syndrome and scoliosis, has had a number of sinus surgeries and heart surgery, and is very small for her age.
The STAR Award is not the first time Taylor has been honored for her efforts. In October, she was named an honorary U.S. Marine Private First Class and an honorary state-ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders. That December, she was promoted to honorary U.S. Marine Sergeant.
Her volunteer activities have not been limited by her illness. She said she draws on her Marine courage to deal with it.
"It's always been in me that I want to do something," she said. "The Marine Corps motto is Honor, Courage, and Commitment. I feel that I need to do everything I can. I just feel like it's the right thing to do."
Currently, Taylor is raising money for Hope For the Warriors, an organization that collects money to help wounded military members and their families. Her health condition prohibits her from ever joining the Marines as an active member, but by volunteering for a cause she loves, Taylor can still be involved said her mother Cathy Batten.
"She's looking outside of herself," her mother said. "All this help that she's doing, she's helping others, but in the long run we think it's helping her."

Sunday, April 15, 2007


As some of you may know, Taylor has been invited to go to Camp Lejeune and I will be taking her at the end of this month. She is SO excited about this. In fact, she has been doing incredibly well and has not complained of being sick or tired, she is that motivated. She however did finally get sick on Friday and is still down, but she has a SMILE on her face. I asked her why she was so happy and she told me, she is happy she is sick because that means she can take her medicines now and won't be sick for when it comes time to be at Camp Lejeune. Now how is that for putting a positive twist on being sick?!

Taylor had such an honor while she was at the National Naval Medical Center in meeting Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell. The fact that this Marine is even alive is a miracle, just like Taylor. I believe they were meant to meet each other. They both have been severely wounded, albeit in different types of battles, but they both empower what courage and commitment mean.

Lt. Col. Maxwell was instrumental in establishing The Wounded Warrior Barracks Maxwell Hall at Camp Lejeune. His wife Shannon, helped start up Hope for the Warriors

The mission of Hope for the Warriors™ is to enhance quality of life for US Service Members and their families nationwide who have been adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty. Hope for the Warriors™ actively seeks to ensure that the sacrifices of wounded and fallen warriors and their families are never forgotten nor their needs unmet, particularly with regard to the short and long-term care of the severely injured.

They are holding a fund raiser and have asked if Taylor would help them out in seeking donations. She of course proudly accepted the challenge. I am posting this in here for Taylor. If you are unable to, maybe you can just pass this along to someone you may think that can. Please, make a check or money order out directly to Hope for the Warriors and once Taylor has her collection done, she will then send them on.

GySgt. Taylor Batten
P.O. Box 350
Mendon, MI 49072

It was suggested to us that we get a paypal account with a donation button, and I am working on that (but we all know how ditzy I am!)

We thank you so much in helping Taylor out with this great cause!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Good Grief!

Well, you can see that I created this blog in March and I am now just figuring out how to log back in!!!!! Life is never boring with me!

I will give a little bit of information on Taylor, most of you know her story as it is. Taylor's life has been nothing but struggles, that is until one day when she got a special package in the mail from a Marine in Iraq. This Marine was so impressed with all Taylor has faced in her short time in life, he was so impressed by her love for her country and that at such a young age, she got what our military was about. In this package, he sent her a flag flown on a mission in her honor. Taylor held that flag in her tiny hands, lifting it to her heart and she had tears rolling down her cheeks. She read a letter from this Marine, he informed her he was making her an honorary Marine. Taylor's fighting spirit came roaring out that day.

We later went to a fallen soldiers funeral, as we heard that a certain protest group was going to be there and Taylor was not going to stand for that. That was the day the Patriot Guard Riders came into our lives, and our family of 4 grew to thousands. The PGR opened their arms to us that day, then preceeded to change our very meaning of being on this Earth. They were so taken in by Taylor and what she stood for, they put together Taylor Batten Day.

With Taylor's medical condition, she will never be able to join the military and serve her country. The PGR didn't let her medical condition stop them, no way. They made Taylor a real official Young Marine, Private First Class.

Taylor was no longer a sick little child who was scared to the very core to go to even just a routine doctor visit. She now was an 'official American Warrior' and she over night, became one very squared away Marine who was not going to back down from anything. It was then decided, Taylor needed a promotion and she now is a very proud Sergeant.

Taylor sends care packages, letters, and emails to our troops in Iraq. She has recruited her little brother Tanner in helping get other kids involved and has had his class make cards and send letters as well. Taylor has gotten her teachers to have her class mates write letters and she sends those to our Wounded Warriors at the National Naval Medical Center. Taylor had the very distinct honor of meeting some very outstanding heroes there when she herself had to go the National Institute of Health for a weeks worth of medical testing.
It is a day that will forever be with her. It was a day that she was shown, no matter what you are faced with, you can over come. She saw some very torn up Marines that day, some with life altering traumatic injuries. She saw how these men faced down their injuries, how they fought, how they were brave. My daughter grew up that day. She saw there is no glory in war. She saw there is indeed pain and suffering and death. My daughters love for her country and her military grew stronger that day, as well as her very own fighting spirit.

Many honors have been bestowed upon Taylor in a short time. She has gotten an award from the Daughters of the American Revolution for her patriotism, she was made a ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders, she has been made a Marine. A special Marine gave up his own personal medal he got from his wounds while fighting for our country. She had the honor of visiting our wounded at NNMC, she has been able to meet two of her heroes by the names of Major Gary Bourland and Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell. She got a very special visit from some very sharp looking Marines from the 8th and I while she was in Washington. Many trinkets with such sentimental value has been passed onto Taylor from countless people. Most importantly, she has gained strength she so badly needs from prayers and from new friendships gained from all over the United States.

To Taylor, her honor is being a proud supporter of and Her honor is making sure that when she can, she goes to the funerals of our fallen Her honor is making sure that she can do her best to let those over fighting the fight, never feel they are alone.

I burst with pride being Taylor and Tanner's mom. Taylor's path is life has been chosen, and she has taken her brother, her dad's and my hands and are leading us. Leading us to become better, to love more, to be compassionate. She has shown us just what strong is.