- Taryn Davis was named one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011
- Her nonprofit provides a network of support to young military widows
- Davis: This recognition will help more widows know they are not alone
Taryn Davis is helping young military widows find the emotional support they need.
Davis was just 21 years old when her husband, an Army corporal, was killed in Iraq. Four months after his death, she created the American Widow Project. The nonprofit has connected more than 900 young military widows through the Internet and weekend retreats since 2007.
CNN asked Davis for her thoughts on being chosen as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011.
CNN: Where were you when you got the call that you'd been selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?
Taryn Davis: I was getting everything ready for an American Widow Project retreat in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Widows were arriving as I was on the phone.
Words truly cannot describe what this means to me, my fellow widows, our husbands and all the healing and camaraderie that will come from this amazing platform and honor. The (Hero) title, though, should be Heroes, as it is a title that encompasses not only my life, love and dedication, but that of every widow that is a part of the American Widow Project and each of the heroes whose lives and legacies they carry on.
CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean to the American Widow Project?
Davis: This means that more widows will know they are not alone. It may seem like a simple statement, but more than 3,000 widows had their lives changed with two men at their door. After they get that news, the real struggles start. And that's where the American Widow Project comes in.
CNN: How will you use the $50,000 award that you receive for being selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?
Davis: It will be an integral part in helping facilitate the daily running of the American Widow Project, but most importantly it will go toward our events for the widows throughout the country. We cover all costs for their time with us, so the only thing they need to worry about is healing and connecting with their fellow widows.
With nine to 10 events held nationally throughout the year -- with hopes to do more -- these are a major aspect of the organization and connecting this generation's widows. This money will truly go toward not only saving lives, but the legacies of our nation's heroes.
CNN: What do you want people to know most about your work?
Davis: The wounds from those affected by these conflicts, many can be seen with the naked eye.
For this generation's military widows and widowers, their wounds can't be seen (even) though they are some of the most severe. It is due to that fact that most of those suffering from the most major of losses don't receive the support and compassion they so deeply deserve.
The work the American Widow Project does recognizes their sacrifice, survival and perseverance and allows them to find healing in a title they never thought they'd hold.
Read the full story on CNN Hero Taryn Davis:
Connecting a new generation of military widows