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Lee Samblanet learning explosive door breaching.
Lee Samblanet learning explosive door breaching.

I received a call from ’Make a Wish’ concerning a young man with cancer who’s final wish was to be a SEAL for a day. After six adrenaline filled days of doing everything "COOL" in SEAL Team, Lee jumped at 14,000 feet and went home. Eight years later, he is doing very well and his training was one of the high points in all our lives... Don Shipley

Our son, Lee, loves a challenge, and the men affiliated with this program gave him all he wanted!

The hours that he spent with them, learning so many skills, and proving himself to them and to himself, were priceless. Many times we have wondered how they could give so much of themselves to a perfect stranger. The answer is that they are a rare breed. They are encouragers, who go for it in their own lives, and work to bring out the best in others!

My son was an unusual challenge for them. He is diabetic, and had recently finished 18 months of chemotherapy and radiation for a rare cancer. At eighteen, radiation left him with sight in just one eye, and many other physical problems. Don had never met Lee, but he drew from their phone conversations that he didn’t want to be treated any differently from anyone else that might show up on his doorstep, requesting to be put through the paces!

Don, Mark, and their crew, saw to it that all his dreams were realized. This was Lee’s Make A Wish trip, and they saw to it, that he would have a once in a lifetime experience. I can never thank these guys enough, for all of the hours they spent working with Lee. He felt like one of the guys, and it meant so much to have him receive this kind of experience.

They were perfect strangers to us then, but we all had the same goal in mind. They provided a doctor to travel with Lee, just in case something went wrong, but he was never needed. Don, Mark, and the rest of the men, made it possible for my son to believe that he could do anything! They put a smile on his face that, eight years later, lights up when he talks about these guys! These folks are an extraordinary example of America’s best, and we feel privileged to know them.

If your son or daughter is fortunate to have their health, they will be one up on Lee, when they meet their challenges. Lee has had a few more battles with cancer to face since returning from Norfolk, but he has braved them like a man that we are proud of. Don, Diane, Mark, and the rest of the guys should be proud too, for they shared a part of themselves with us. That makes us all a little stronger.

Anyone who has the desire to go beyond themselves and wants to undergo a workout like they would receive in military service, should seriously think about spending time with Don, Diane, and Mark. They are a class act!

Grateful parents,

Tom and Brenda Samblanet

Lee died on June 27, 2007 after an 8 year brawl with cancer and was buried on his 25th birthday. His final request was to be buried in his cammies and SEAL Trident he was issued when he graduated with us as an Honorary SEAL, explaining it was the best week of his life. I was honored to speak at his funeral and to let his family know it was also the best week of my life.
Don Shipley

Lee geared up for SEAL Close Quater Battle Training.
Lee geared up for SEAL Close Quater Battle Training.

Lee and SEAL Master Blaster firing demolition shots.
Lee and SEAL Master Blaster firing demolition shots.

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