American Freedom Festival: Washington 2012

9th Annual American Freedom Festival Washington
November 10, 2012
Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA

The night of all nights!!  The 9th annual American Freedom Festival Washington presented by SKYDEX and CareerBuilder played to an enthusiastic packed house at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA on Saturday, November 10.  The 3 plus hour extravaganza featured many extraordinary moments beginning with our co-host, SMA Tilley, getting things started with “An American Homecoming:  Saluting America’s Returning Heroes” tribute video to our military.  It was very moving bringing many in the audience to tears  After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by Christal Rheams and eloquently delivered invocation by MCPOCG Vince Patton (retired), co-Host, actress, Karri Turner, joined SMA on stage.  Social Media and Mobile Text Giving were a big part of the show tonight.  Karri and SMA Tilley asked the audience to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and donate $10 by texting 4VETS to 20222 throughout the evenig.  Everyone picked up their cellphones and began tweeting and texting.  It was amazing!!

Karri spoke about the Veterans Career Hiring Event that was held earlier in the day and acknowledged all the great companies for participating.  She commended them for answering the call to help our Veterans find employment.  Over 80% of the Veterans in attendance at the Hiring Event were engaged for follow up and next steps by the companies!  Quite incredible!

Speaking of extraordinary moments, Karri and SMA Tilley introduce a moving video identifying the many needs of our Veterans and military families and the services in places to address those needs.  AFF supports many organizations that provide essential support services to our Veterans.  Those organizations were featured in this video.

Karri then introduced our first act, KANSAS!  They took the stage to an overture of “Dust In The Wind” and proceeded to blow the audience away with their stellar musicianship.  After playing countless hits, engaging the audience at every turn and creating an explosive atmosphere, they showed why they are one of the premier bands in rock history.  What a performance!

Another extraordinary moment followed as SMA Tilley and Karri brought to the stage, presenting sponsor SKYDEX’s Executive Chairman of the Board, Frank Mendicino.  Together they presented the first charitable contribution of the evening.  SMA Tilley invited John Jaeger from YRCI, Lisa Reeves, President and CEO of Easter Seals Greater Washington Baltimore Region and U.S. Marine Corp Veteran, Kevin Brown.  Kevin gave a moving testimonial of how Easter Seals has stepped up to help him and other Veterans trying to reintegrate back into civilian life under very stressful circumstances.  Then to the surprise of Ms. Reeves, SMA presented a check for $45,000!! She was visibly moved by this presentation.

Next SMA Tilley invited Ken Falke from Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors to the stage and presented a check to him for $20,000 on behalf of Shane Moore and all the employees of Veterans Management Services, Inc.  Technical Sergeant Adam Popp spoke on behalf of Boulder Crest acknowledging their service and the need for such a facility.  What a great partnership.  We can’t wait for the grand opening to happen in June!

SMA Tilley then introduced our featured act of the evening, CHICAGO.  Enough can’t be said for the talent of this group and the great energy they brought to the show.   The band wowed the crowd, performing all their hits and then some.  The audience stood and cheered through the entire performance.  It was magical!

Thanks go out to our 60 sponsors who made this event possible and the thousand in attendance who never stopped showing their appreciation for our Veterans and service members.  Throughout the evening it became so apparent that we must never forget the service and sacrifice our military has undertaken and continues to undertake to insure that we live a life of freedom.


  • American Freedom Festival Washington 2012 presented by SKYDEX and CareerBuilder!

  • 2012 American Freedom Festival Washington featuring legendary CHICAGOPhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • Our inimitable host, AFF Co-Founder, SMA (r) Jack Tilley!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • The Virginia National Guard Commonwealth Challenge Youth Academy get things started with a wonderful salute to the colors! PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • The lovely and talented co-host, Ms. Karri Turner with SMA (r) Tilley.  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • The U.S. Army's Christal Rheams delivers a magnificent performance of our National Anthem!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • Lead Singer, Steve Walsh, and KANSAS rock the crowd at AFFDC 2012!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • AFFDC 2012 crowd goes wild for KANSAS!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • Fiddle player, Dave Ragsdale of KANSAS, shows why they are one of the greatest rock bands in history!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • Easter Seals receives AFF check for $45,000 on behalf of SKYDEX and YRCI!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • Boulder Crest received AFF check for $20,000 on behalf of SKYDEX and VMSI!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • CHICAGO takes the stage to a thunderous reception!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • The legendary horns of CHICAGO drive the crowd crazy on "25 or 6 to 4"!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • SMA (r) Tilley and Patrick Milligan of Kaplan University present Brandi Stephens with Scholarship Award!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran

  • Keith Howland and James Pankow of CHICAGO show everyone why they have maintained the highest degree of musicianship for over 5 decades!  What A Performance!!!!  PhotoCredit: Duy Tran