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Inspiring Conversations with Kelli Campbell-Goodnow of Folds of Honor Kansas City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelli Campbell-Goodnow. 

Hi Kelli, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
On January 14, 2016, my husband, Shawn, was killed in a USMC helicopter collision in Hawaii. Suddenly widowed at 36 with four young children, I moved to Kansas City to be near my parents. I had grown up in Texas so there was nothing else familiar to me or my children here. We no longer had the Marine Corps telling us where to live and had left behind our military community, our church, our friends- everything. Even our belongings were in storage until I figured out what to do next, but it felt as if our future had simply gone dark. Several weeks after arriving in Kansas, the military was still recovering wreckage from the ocean and investigating the accident that took the lives of twelve Marines. We were not able to hold a burial for Shawn until April of that year, nearly four months after the crash. It was in the midst of that waiting and loss that Folds of Honor came along, like a lighthouse in the storm. I was given the priceless gift of being able to choose a school for my (previously homeschooled) children that would meet their needs academically and emotionally, and that would become our  ”village” as we navigated this new life. Once I took that step to enroll them in school, I knew we would stay in Kansas City. Soon I found a home near the school, a church near our home, the kids joined new sports teams, gained new music teachers… on and on went the ripple effects of that first tentative step, and we began to see a new future taking shape. Late in 2016, I began speaking at Folds of Honor events on behalf of recipient families. Terrified and resistant at first, I soon realized that in addition to the incredible gift of education, I was now being given the chance to say, “Thank you”, in person, to donors responsible for helping my family, AND I had the opportunity to pass on that help to other families like mine. How could I say No? Almost five years later, that speaking role has snowballed into a full-time job with Folds of Honor as the development officer for the Kansas City chapter. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Obviously, this has not been an easy road. I married my college sweetheart at twenty-one and expected to grow old with him, see him retire from a full military career, watch our children become adults, and welcome grandchildren together. But that wasn’t to be. For over five years now I’ve navigated trauma, loss, and grief with my children (a process that will continue for the rest of our lives), I’ve started over in every way, including a career in non-profit development that I never expected. But all along the way, I have seen so much beauty and goodness. I have been supported by my military community, my friends, my family, and even strangers I may never meet. I believe God is good and His plan is always for our good. He is able to bring beauty from ashes in ways we could never imagine. I have Isaiah 41:13 tattooed on my right wrist. The scripture says, “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” He certainly helped me and my children and has given us the ability to help others because of our experiences. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Folds of Honor is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to families of military men and women who have fallen or been disabled while on active duty in the United States armed forces. Our educational scholarships support private education tuition and tutoring for children in grades K-12, as well as higher education tuition assistance for spouses and dependents. Founded in 2007 by Lt Col Dan Rooney, a PGA member and F-16 fighter pilot currently stationed at Tyndall AFB Florida as a member of 301st Fighter Squadron who served three tours of duty in Iraq, Folds of Honor is proud to have awarded more than 35,000 scholarships in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including more than 6,000 in 2021 alone. Folds of Honor is proud of the fact that %41 of recipients are minorities with education being one of the greatest bridges to equality in our nation. We have been awarded the highest ratings on both GuideStar and Charity Navigator and can report that over 90 cents of every dollar raised goes into the scholarship fund. For more information or to donate in support of a Folds of Honor scholarship, visit 

Folds of Honor fills a unique need for families of the fallen and disabled. When my husband died, I immediately had individuals and organizations reaching out to me about college scholarships, but my children were 12, 9, 6, and 2. While I was immensely grateful, college expenses were the least of my worries at that time! How was I going to get my children through middle and high school? How was I going to get my baby out of diapers and willing to give up his pacifier? How was I ever going to be able to fill the enormous void left by their beloved Dad? The answer, at least partly, was educational assistance for K-12 grade. As a homeschooling family, we had a vision for their education and loved the method we had chosen as it gave us flexibility and consistency throughout so many military moves. As a single mom, I needed help. I needed other adults who would pour into my children’s lives, men who would mentor my sons, teachers who could take over the teaching so I could just be their mom. And because of Folds of Honor, I was empowered to choose the right place for my family’s unique needs. Folds of Honor doesn’t just give scholarships -they give hope. 

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