'We can do this!' amputee veteran declares in his plea for border wall funds

A triple amputee Air Force veteran and motivational speaker is asking the 63 million Americans who voted for...

Posted: Dec 24, 2018 5:21 PM
Updated: Dec 24, 2018 5:21 PM

A triple amputee Air Force veteran and motivational speaker is asking the 63 million Americans who voted for President Donald Trump to chip in $80 apiece for a border wall.

The total would meet Trump's request for $5 billion to build a wall, with $40 million to spare. As of Sunday morning, Brian Kolfage had raised about $16 million for a wall on the US border with Mexico.

Armed forces

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Military

North America

Political Figures - US

The Americas

United States

Disability and society

Disabled persons

Society

Undocumented immigrants

Border control

Government and public administration

Immigration politics

International relations

National security

Political platforms and issues

Politics

Territorial and national borders

US-Mexico border wall

Trump said Wednesday, amid debate over a potential government shutdown, that Mexico would indirectly pay for the wall via a trade deal and that the US military would build it.

"Even if we get half, that's half the wall. We can do this," Kolfage writes on his verified GoFundMe, which had more than 218,000 donors as of Friday evening.

Kolfage had the idea about a year ago but decided to move forward Sunday because of "inaction from our politicians," he told CNN via email. He is surprised by the amount of money he's been able to raise, he wrote.

"I've been receiving thousands of emails from citizens who have waited in line to become Americans and completed this process the legal way. They are so thankful for this," he wrote. "They are giving and they are from both sides of the aisle, and that's why this movement is growing so fast."

While the campaign has a goal of $1 billion, the Destin, Florida, man who lost both legs and his right hand in Iraq says $1 billion is GoFundMe's max and he's working to have it increased. The most successful GoFundMe effort to date has raised more than $22 million and counting in the last year for the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, which provides counsel to victims of sexual abuse and harassment.

A call to stop 'illegals'

The grandson of immigrants who arrived in the United States "legally," he says, Kolfage is working with the White House to establish a point of contact for the money. US Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Mississippi, plans to introduce a bill directing the Treasury Department to issue bonds to fund the wall, though there are other options "on the table," Kolfage says on the GoFundMe page.

"We haven't spoken directly to the President but would like to," he told CNN via email. "After all, this is for his campaign promise. The people are yelling, and I hope he listens."

The veteran is working with a law firm to craft a binding document to ensure all money goes to the wall, and if the goal isn't reached, all donations will be refunded, he said.

Saying Trump has "followed through on just about every promise" he made in his campaign, Kolfage says it's every citizen's duty to help Trump overcome Democratic resistance to the wall and "make America safe again."

"Too many Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens and too many illegals are taking advantage of the United States taxpayers with no means of ever contributing to our society," the husband and father says in soliciting donations.

While it's unusual for Americans to kick in money above what they pay in taxes for government functions, it is not unheard of. Financier David Rubenstein has donated tens of millions to restore the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington House and US Marine Corps War Memorial as well as give the National Zoo $9 million for its panda conservation efforts.

Life after horrific mortar wounds

Billing himself as the "most wounded US airman to survive his wounds," Kolfage says on his personal website that as a speaker, he can motivate groups and "inspire them to be better people in their daily life."

In a 2012 CNN profile, the Detroit native said he started his Air Force career in the security forces and traveled to Iraq and Kuwait after 9/11. By September 2004, he had caught the war bug, he said, and unsuccessfully volunteered to head to Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad.

Rather than give up his quest, Kolfage found a young airman who had been selected for the trip and tried to scare him, telling him he would get his legs blown off if he went to Iraq. The recruit bailed, allowing Kolfage to make the trip, he said.

On September 11, 2004, after a night of customs enforcement work, Kolfage awoke in the afternoon. Shortly after leaving his tent, he heard a blast that rendered him unconscious. When he came to, he learned a mortar had landed feet away from him, horrifically wounding him.

His friends would later tell him that while moving him to a stretcher, they had to hold his body parts in place for fear they'd fall off. In the on-base trauma center, the doctors tending to him "looked like they were scared s***less," he told CNN.

He woke up two weeks later in Ward 57 of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Doctors there told Kolfage he was the most seriously injured airman ever to survive his wounds, he said.

"If you saw those pictures, you would say, 'There's no way that guy lived.' Everything looked like it went through a meat grinder," Kolfage said.

No longer able to enjoy surfing, hockey or his service in the armed forces, Kolfage found a new calling in the architecture program at the University of Arizona, graduating in 2014 among the top in his class.

"I wouldn't say I'm glad I got injured," he told CNN in 2012, "but it made me the different person I am today." He called his ordeal "a big life lesson that no matter how grim something might be, you can make something positive out of it."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20573

Reported Deaths: 878
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin6918534
Ramsey231697
Stearns192312
Nobles14572
Anoka116455
Dakota105935
Olmsted55110
Washington50626
Kandiyohi4541
Clay36623
Rice3652
Scott3462
Wright2401
Sherburne2081
Todd1970
Benton1662
Carver1612
Mower1501
Steele1400
Martin1245
Blue Earth1121
St. Louis11113
Pine850
Freeborn840
Winona7715
Carlton730
Nicollet683
Cottonwood620
Polk582
Otter Tail550
Itasca527
Goodhue522
Watonwan500
Chisago481
Dodge430
Meeker420
Crow Wing421
Le Sueur411
Chippewa400
Jackson390
Morrison380
Murray350
Becker320
Lyon310
Douglas290
McLeod260
Isanti250
Waseca240
Rock210
Unassigned199
Fillmore171
Mille Lacs161
Wabasha160
Swift150
Sibley120
Beltrami120
Wilkin113
Norman110
Kanabec111
Cass113
Faribault110
Brown112
Pipestone100
Marshall80
Pennington70
Pope70
Aitkin60
Wadena60
Yellow Medicine50
Koochiching50
Lincoln50
Mahnomen51
Renville50
Lac qui Parle30
Red Lake30
Big Stone30
Redwood30
Traverse30
Grant20
Houston20
Clearwater20
Hubbard10
Kittson10
Lake10
Roseau10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 17227

Reported Deaths: 456
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3714108
Woodbury255524
Black Hawk167639
Linn92775
Marshall86611
Dallas84914
Johnson5987
Muscatine54339
Wapello5004
Crawford4772
Tama39023
Louisa3347
Scott3319
Dubuque31916
Jasper25616
Buena Vista2310
Pottawattamie2106
Sioux1990
Washington1798
Allamakee1184
Wright1170
Plymouth1080
Warren1060
Story941
Poweshiek888
Bremer676
Henry611
Clinton601
Boone540
Des Moines531
Mahaska526
Cedar451
Guthrie433
Taylor370
Benton371
Jones360
Monroe334
Iowa320
Clarke320
Osceola320
Shelby310
Buchanan310
Clayton303
Marion290
Webster271
Fayette260
Hamilton260
Madison241
Monona230
Cerro Gordo221
Lee220
Winneshiek210
Davis200
Lyon190
Grundy190
Harrison190
Floyd181
Jefferson150
Cherokee150
Butler150
Mills140
Delaware140
Humboldt130
Sac130
Greene130
Keokuk130
Hardin130
Howard120
Hancock120
Appanoose123
Audubon111
Jackson110
Cass110
Ida100
Page100
Clay100
Winnebago100
Carroll90
Van Buren80
Franklin80
Dickinson80
Adair80
Chickasaw80
Kossuth70
Emmet70
Lucas60
Montgomery60
Union60
Adams50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Pocahontas40
Mitchell40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Unassigned30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur00
Rochester
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 75°
Mason City
Broken Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 76°
Albert Lea
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 79°
Charles City
Scattered Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 75°
Storms a brewin'
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Will Memorial Day cause a coronavirus spike?

Image

Can you catch Covid-19 from mosquitos?

Image

125 Live Restaurant partnership

Image

Taps in City Park

Image

100 Most traveled days in MN have begun

Image

Parade in the park

Image

Field of Flags

Image

Pausing the pandemic to remember the fallen

Image

Memorial Day Dinner

Image

Salvation Army Dental Care Needs PPE

Community Events