NWA doubles down on support of Warriors for Freedom

ORLANDO, FL — Those in attendance at the 2019 National Watermelon Association convention on the Big Island of Hawaii heard the compelling story of retired Major Ed Pulido, who spoke of the combat injury that cost him his left leg and the ensuing mental health struggles he endured as a result.

Major Ed, as he is commonly known, was able to overcome many of the challenges and felt obliged to pay it forward and help other veterans facing mental health issues. As such, he formed the Warriors for Freedom Foundation, whose mission is to connect service members, veterans and their families with resources needed to become united with their communities again.PulidoMorganMorrisseyMajor Ed Pulido and Kris Morgan joined NWA Executive Director Bob Morrissey on stage Feb. 21 during the 106th annual National Watermelon Association convention in Orlando, FL, to discuss their efforts to help veterans facing mental health issues. Photo by John Groh.

Major Ed's story resonated with NWA members at the 2019 convention, and approximately $45,000 was raised to benefit Warriors for Freedom. At the behest of his friend, NWA Executive Director Bob Morrissey, Major Ed reprised his role as a featured speaker at the 2020 NWA convention, here, and this time was joined by fellow veteran Kris Morgan, who was also injured in combat and who credits Major Ed for saving his life following a suicide attempt.

Together, Major Ed and Morgan, who was accompanied by his service dog, Andi, took the stage with Morrissey on Feb. 21 to talk about overcoming their struggles and what they are now doing to help other veterans.

While Major Ed travels the country to raise awareness and funds to benefit veterans, Morgan handcrafts wooden American flags and raises money for his Flags 4 Veterans Foundation to support veterans' causes.

Morrissey said he was proud of the fundraising effort at last year's convention, but he knew his watermelon family could step it up, and so he set a goal of doubling the total raised last year.

With the help of the inspiring stories of Major Ed and Nelson, who donated several of his flags to the NWA's annual auction, the watermelon industry responded and more than $100,000 was raised to benefit the Warriors for Freedom Foundation.

Morrissey announced the total on Feb. 22 during his State of the Industry Address, which prompted a standing ovation from the capacity crowd.

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