Throughout his lifetime, John has had many different jobs with the most rewarding being a Firefighter with the Raleigh Fire Department in North Carolina for 28 years.
While serving as the project director on the building that housed the North Carolina Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial, the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, occurred. John was sent to New York to assist the families of the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on that day and became the liaison for the state of NC to NY, traveling to NY 220 times since that tragic day.
In December 2001, John and many of the New York City Fire Fighters gathered and traveled to Walter Reed Hospital to provide a Christmas party for wounded veterans and their families. This tradition continues today and has expanded to also include a large Super Bowl Party.
On December 17, 2004, John was severely injured in a backdraft fire explosion. He underwent multiple surgeries and spent a year in respiratory rehabilitation.
John met Gary in Brooklyn, New York, at the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance. Since then, they have worked together on various projects. For about 7 years, John worked with Gary and the Lieutenant Dan Band, and with the Independence Fund in South Carolina. At a weeklong event for wounded veterans in Palm Key, John taught art classes as one of the many activities offered. The highlight of each day was the nightly bonfireas veterans would open and share with other veterans their stories, their struggles, and their victories. The healing that John witnessed from this event became the vision and inspiration behind Camp4Heroes.
John is both the proud founder and director of Camp4Heroes. Located in rural Robeson County in the city of Fairmont, North Carolina, Camp4Heroes has 300 acres, a 10-acre lake full of catfish and largemouth bass, cabins, a bunkhouse, horses, a non-denomination chapel, and of course two large firepits for gathering around a bonfire. John attributes this place of healing to one man: Gary Sinise.
With his upmost respect for Gary and his mission, John crafted a painting of Gary and the Lieutenant Dan Band which was sold for $100,000 at a fundraising event at the Hard Rock Café in New York City. Additional prints of this painting have brought in over $85,000 with all the proceeds going towards both the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Independence Fund to aid in their missions to support our wounded veterans.
“Being an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation over these many years has meant a lot to me. I have the utmost respect for him and what he does, not only for our country, but our veterans and their families and our first responders. May God continue to bless Gary and watch over him as he furthers his mission.”
— John Woodall