Key Biscayne Essential: Winnie Pritchett & Amy Zambrano
Fighting on the Front Lines for American Soldiers
By Brett Graff
Amy Zambrano and Winnie Pritchett deliver iPads to soldiers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
“You can’t imagine how many people say, ‘I thought we pulled all our troops out and the war is over,’” says Zambrano, who attributes that mind frame to events in Iraq.
Zambrano and Prichett have a good view of the statistics and the stories behind them because they founded iPadsforSoldiers.com, a non-profit organization that raises money -- and spends every penny, meaning zero administrative costs – to buy these portable devices for those fighting in the war in Afghanistan. Since 2009, when Pritchett’s son was deployed, the organization has purchased and presented nearly 900 iPads to military members, first targeting those stationed in remote locations – so they could communicate with their families, listen to music and even take college courses. Later, they started reaching out to the amputees who wouldn’t be able to type on clunky laptop but can almost effortlessly operate the touch screens.
“You do not have a clear picture of this war until you walk the halls of this nation's military hospitals, meeting these young heroes, many missing multiple limbs, some having lost half their skulls to bullets,” says Zambrano. “The most incredible part? They are as busy thanking us as we are thanking them for their tremendous sacrifices.”
Pritchett and Zambrano work tirelessly to raise money for the organization. They say the Key Biscayne community has been overwhelmingly generous, not only donating money but also providing outreach to corporate donors, such as Diageo. (Apple Inc., they say, has not made a donation or provided a discount outside of the 4 percent it gives typical bulk orders.) However recently, movie director Tom Shadyak (Ace Venture, Bruce Almighty) provided a donation large enough for the organization to purchase 55 new iPads, which they’ll deliver to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda this August.
“Whether you believe in the war or not, we have 90,000 troops in Afghanistan,” says Pritchett. “Besides being useful, these iPads tell the soldiers, ‘You’re not forgotten.’”
WHO WANTS AN IPAD?
iPadsForSoldiers delivers the devices to those stationed overseas