Helping Hands for Freedom is a 501c3 dedicated to supporting the families of the fallen, wounded and deployed.

Helping Hands For Freedom earns national distinction

Posted November 25, 2015 by Jaclyn Clark

Staff Sgt. Patrick Shannon and Darin Fishburn both know what it means to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

While in Iraq, Shannon, who lives in Fairland, suffered vision loss, nerve damage to his left leg and now deals with moderate traumatic brain injuries after being involved in a mortar attack in 2006 in Iraq. As a result, Shannon received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for rescuing two injured Iraqi police officers.

For Fishburn, who hails from Indianapolis, the reality came all too close when his nephew, Indianapolis Metro Police Officer Jason Fishburn was shot in the head and nearly killed by a murder suspect in 2008.

Together, they honor the memories of the fallen heroes on a daily basis through the Helping Hands for Freedom initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit company aimed at helping those who protect America. The organization is based in Arizona, but helps soldiers all over the nation, including Shelby County.

“When Sgt. Shannon was recovering at Walter Reed, soldiers told him they were not concerned about themselves or their injuries, but rather their spouses and children. Making sure they were OK was all that these brave men and women were worried about. By 2008, the foundation had formed. We started small and have grown. When Sgt. Shannon came to me and said his charity was wanting to go in a different direction, I was completely on board,” said Fishburn, who serves as CEO of Helping Hands for Freedom.

The mission of Helping Hands for Freedom is a simple one. The organization is dedicated to supporting military children and families facing injury, loss and deployment. Helping Hands for Freedom aims to improve children’s lives through compassion, honor, mentorship and leadership programs.

“I saw what a difference an organization could make for the injured warrior and saw a void. None of the families of the fallen or the wounded were being helped. So I got the idea of starting my own 501(c)(3) and did with Rodney Smith as a co-founder and here we are,” Shannon said.

Because of its desire to help, Helping Hands for Freedom was recently recognized with the Lincoln Award, which is presented to a veteran’s advocacy organization that makes outstanding contributions and supports military families.

Fishburn said HHFF tries to follow the words of President Lincoln, who said, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,” affirming the government’s obligation to care for those who pay the ultimate sacrifice.

“This award means so much to our charity. Our mission is to support the families of the fallen, wounded and deployed. This was a huge honor to receive such recognition,” Fishburn said.

According to Fishburn, there are 237 military-driven charities in America.

“We seem like the David in the world of Goliath sometimes, and it’s nice to know a charity like ours helping one person at a time does make a difference,” he said.

Shannon echoed those sentiments.

“To be serious, awards aren’t what it is about for me. Instead, it is the exposure that allows us to take care of more families. For me, the more we help is what it’s about,” Shannon said.

This is the second top award Helping Hands For Freedom has received in as many years.

In 2014, the organization was recognized for outstanding service to military children of the fallen, wounded and deployed by The Hallmark Channel.

The Hallmark Channel selected Helping Hands for Freedom as one of its National Military Family Charities of the Year.

Helping Hands for Freedom is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that supports military children & families facing injury, loss, and multiple deployments. You can learn more about us at