Something inside Alison Williams said “don’t let this go” when she saw that Marcus Luttrell’s Patriot Tour was coming to Minneapolis. All her 19-year-old son, Ian, “ever wanted to do” was be a soldier, but his diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor a little over two years ago made the dream impossible, she told TheBlaze on Sunday.
Williams knew how much it would mean to her son to actually meet Luttrell, a retired Navy SEAL and author of “The Lone Survivor,” but the VIP tickets that offered a meet-and-greet were just too expensive at $354 each. It was Thursday when she saw the email, and the event was on Friday. She knew she could never raise the money in time.
“We don’t come from a military family, but it was all [Ian] ever wanted to do,” she explained. “He was going to graduate, he was going to join the army, he wanted to go to Army Ranger school and be one of the elite guys.”
Williams, the mother of nine, said she had been in shock but didn’t fully break down after her eldest son’s diagnosis until one of the nurses explained that the Army wouldn’t take him anymore.
“I instantly knew that would crush him, more than hearing that he had cancer,” she told TheBlaze.
So Williams became a mom “on a mission” on Thursday, determined to use whatever online presence she had to reach out, writing a post on her blog An Ordinary Mom, in addition to tweeting public figures like Glenn Beck for help.
She also wrote in a Facebook post to Luttrell: “We’ve received a lot of help over the past 2 years, but I’ve never come right out and asked for it…but when I saw notice of your event, I knew I had to try.”
Within hours, she saw this response on Twitter:
And then she got an email letting her know that VIP tickets would be waiting at will call.
But to her surprise, she and Ian didn’t just get to meet Luttrell and go to the event — Luttrell and his wife pulled them aside for roughly twenty minutes for a private, relaxed chat.
“I wasn’t expecting that!” she wrote on Twitter afterwards, in addition to profuse thanks to Beck and Luttrell.
“It meant so much to hear a story like [Luttrell's],” she added for TheBlaze. “We knew his basic story, but to hear it right from the person staring right at him, the story of…perseverance, the whole idea behind ‘never quit,’ which has been our mantra for the last two years — never, ever give up. To hear it from someone who’s not just an amazing story, it’s an amazing military story, [which] has been so important to Ian for so many years…It just meant ten times as much.”
She posted this photo of the meet on Instagram:
Williams told TheBlaze that Ian ended treatment last November, but he’s still in “a lot” of physical therapy.
“The first year [after his diagnosis] was just survival,” she said, but the second year has been more of an emotional battle.
Being able to speak with Luttrell meant the world, she said, writing on Twitter:
Marcus Luttrell’s Patriot Tour has toured the nation for the past several weeks, telling the story of Operation Redwing and preserving the memory of those who have passed.
“I’ve heard that people, after they hear my story — it changes their life or motivates them to do other things and it shows them that they can get through anything,” Luttrell told TheBlaze earlier this month. “If just one person can take something away from what I said, it was worth it. That’s what I keep falling back on.”
Beck, fighting back emotion, discussed the story on radio Monday:
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