Cadet First Class Dennis P. Rando lost his life in a flight training accident on September 30, 1996. He is the son of Paul and Toni Rando of East Bridgewater, MA, and the brother of Denise Rando. Paul and Toni were members of the AF Academy Cadet Parents' Association of Eastern Massachusetts. Dennis' Instructor Pilot, Capt. Clay Smith, lost his life in the accident as well. Tragically, two other cadets and their Air Force flight instructors also lost their lives in separate flight trainer accidents at the Academy in 1995 - Cadet Mark Dostal and his Instructor Pilot, Capt. Dan Fischer and in 1997 - Cadet Pace Weber and his Instructor Pilot, Capt. Glenn Comeaux. (http://www.falconpride.com/t3/) Dennis was an admirable and well-liked Cadet. Those who knew him were very impressed by his friendliness, willingness to help others, generosity, and his compassion. Dennis is described by many as "the epitome of a cadet." His passion was to fly.
Former AFA Cadet Parents' Association of Eastern Massachusetts President, Bob Caggiano, founded the Rando Fund. Bob was inspired to create the Fund as a way to reimburse a number of Dennis' cadet classmates who came to Massachusetts to attend Dennis' funeral to serve as a cadet Honor Guard after learning that the cadets had traveled at their own personal expense. Bob would also learn that the Academy does not have the financial resources to provide for this type of travel for a cadet Honor Guard. The Massachusetts Association made an appeal to other cadet parents and Cadet Parents' Associations to help reimburse these cadets for their travel by making a donation. The response from across the country was overwhelming and more money that what was needed was donated. The Cadet Parents Club of Eastern Massachusetts then decided that fund raising to provide this type of travel was a most worthwhile endeavor for all cadets, their families and the AF Academy, as well as way to honor Dennis' memory. The Academy Superintendent at that time, General Paul Stein, recognized the value of this effort in support of the cadets and the Academy and worked to assist in the Rando Fund becoming a national fund raising initiative with a committee comprised of cadet parents and Cadet Parent Associations throughout the USA. The Air Force and the Academy fully supports the Fund and have officially recognized it and its mission. The Fund remains viable due to the continued donations of many individuals and the fund raising efforts of Parents' Associations from across the country. Since the Fund's inception, approximately $267,000 has been raised and spent in support of cadets and their families.
The Fund's primary purpose is to help finance travel so that a group of about six cadets can attend the funeral services of a fellow cadet. The fund continually maintains a $10,000 reserve of its total assets for this purpose. Enabling the cadets to participate in the funeral service of a fellow cadet accomplishes two things. It helps cadets during an emotional time to say a final good-bye to their very close friend and it helps support the family involved when they see and meet a contingent of cadets who were closest to their son or daughter. The cadets also serve as the representatives of all other cadets and cadet families at the hometown services. Cadets are not asked to repay these funds. The funds are a gift made possible by the generous donations of people like you.
All funds beyond the reserve are earmarked for humanitarian purposes such as enabling cadets of limited financial means to be able to travel home to attend the funeral services for a family member, close relative or close friend; or, to visit a very ill or seriously injured family member, close relative or friend based on the recommendations of a cadet's AOC, the Cadet Chaplain's Office or Commandant's Office. Cadet eligibility regarding necessity of travel, as well as determining the cadet's financial need is the responsibility of the Chaplain's Office. Not even the President of the Rando Fund is involved in that process. It has always been the opinion of the Fund's leadership that those decisions are best left to those most closely involved with the cadets and have the expertise necessary to determine a cadet's level of personal, emotional and financial need. Based on those recommendations, the Fund will subsidize the cost of the travel. The cadet and their family are not required to reimburse the fund. Again, these funds are a gift made possible by your donations.
The Air Force Academy Superintendents, Commandants and Chaplains have continually expressed their support and appreciation of this Fund because it fills a void at the Academy that is not a part of their budget, nor is transportation for such situations offered through the Air Force. Many officials at the Academy continue to be impressed with the ability of the parents to organize and help the cadets at a time of emotional need. The letters of sincere appreciation received from families who have lost a cadet as well as the letters of thanks from cadets who have been able to attend the funeral of a fallen comrade or be at the bedside of critically ill family member or friend, speaks to the need for us to continue this most worthwhile work.
The Fund supports any cadet in need, not just the cadets whose families or Parents' Associations have made contributions. The Rando Fund has no affiliation with any other fund raising groups or organizations and has no other missions other than to raise funds on behalf of cadets for the purposes stated above. 100% of every donation received goes into the Fund. The Fund has no paid staff nor does it have any expenses related to its operation. The cost of all expenses is donated.
Thank you in advance for all that you will do to help make the Dennis P. Rando Cadet Humanitarian Fund a success and for your support of all cadets. We feel that it is the least we can do for our sons and daughters who have voluntarily committed themselves to the defense of our nation.
President and Trustee
Dennis P. Rando Cadet Humanitarian Fund