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Veteran overcomes disability to help other vets for Christmas

Posted at 10:13 PM, Dec 10, 2021

FORT MEYERS, Fla. (WFTX) — Renee Whisner remembers how good it felt to receive get-well-soon cards when she was in the hospital. Now she wants to help fellow veterans feel the same way.

Whisner is sending out more than 3,000 Christmas cards to every veteran's hospital and nursing home in Florida. She got the idea while recovering from her own injury seven years ago.

After serving in the Air Force, Whisner was paralyzed from the chest down in an auto accident while living in India in 2014. While she recovered from surgery at a Tampa veteran’s hospital, Whisner’s church sent her hundreds of cards.

“One of the nurses came in and said I was the only one that was receiving cards there, and I thought, ‘No way,’” Whisner said.

So this year she’ll send 3,161 cards around the state. Many of the cards were donated, and they were filled with messages from children at six Collier County high schools.

Whisner’s mother, Mimi Treadway, and caregiver, Danielle Passage, addressed and stuffed the envelopes.

“Renee has a purpose in life. And it’s not to sit in this chair and be sad,” Treadway said. “It’s to do things with her life that make her happy. And this makes her very happy, so I’m thankful for that.”

Whisner said her goal is to expand next year and send cards to veterans nationwide. She also wants to show that that people with disabilities can still lead fulfilling lives.

“I’ve seen the veterans when they do receive stuff. And when I receive things, I know that it’s exciting,” Whisner said. “If you don’t have any friends and family that do this, it takes someone like me.”

This story was originally reported by Adam Fisher on