Johanne Walker’s dad, Colonel Cliff Walker, died saving her little brother from drowning on Memorial Day. Her dad’s sacrifice showed her the depth of love and the courage in sacrifice.

Memorial Day radically changed in meaning, which is rather fitting for the patriot that he was. Memorial Day was no longer the long weekend where the family got to spend special time with their dad. It was the tangible and unforgiving reminder of his sacrifice and that of his brothers in arms. 

“My dad didn’t die in the line of fire, at least not in the strictest definition of the phrase. He wasn’t under military orders when he passed, but it was a final act of service,” explained Johanne. “My brother and he had gone canoeing in the nearby river. It was a flood year, in 2007, and the two of them encountered a steep drop-off in a less explored part of the river. He brought my brother to safety, but he was swept away by the force of the current. He went down the falls and drowned, after being knocked unconscious.”

The death of Johanne’s father changed her life forever. Colonel Cliff Walker gave his life willingly for his son and the impact of that is beyond words. With the thought of her father’s sacrifice in her mind, Johanne wishes to improve the quality of life of others, particularly in developing countries, through medical assistance.