A Huntsville Gold Star Widow Gets 15,000 Reasons to Smile
On National Gold Star Spouse Day, Canvas, Inc. honored Huntsville Gold Star Widow Nicoleta Padureanu with the proceeds from their annual 0.5K Event, totaling $15,000.
“Three years ago, Canvas became involved with spearheading the 0.5k Event,” explained Canvas’ Marketing Director, Erin Bloxham Curtis. “This event, which raises funds for Gold Star Families in North Alabama, is important to Canvas. Not only is over 30% of our work force comprised of Veterans, but our involvement originated because one of our Canvas Family Members is also a Gold Star Family.”
Despite COVID restrictions prohibiting a physical race and block party this year, Canvas pressed forward with the annual event and focused all their efforts on fundraising for Nicoleta and her six-year-old daughter, Aeliana.
In her application, Padureanu told the story of her husband, 1st LT David Albandoz, a 16-year member of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, being so excited about the move to Huntsville and working for the Missile Defense Agency. She said while she would have found it daunting to go from being a pilot to a 9-to-5 office job, her husband looked forward to being able to incorporate his field experience with innovation.
“He was the most optimistic person,” wrote Padureanu. “Our joke was that he was carrying the Puerto Rican sun within, everywhere he went. Not one rainy day for David!”
Tragically three years ago, on May 2, 2018, 1st LT Albandoz returned home in a flag covered casket after he, along with nine other service members, died in a plane crash shortly after takeoff.
“He was only 37 years old. It wasn’t the way I envisioned him being home for our little one’s three-year-old birthday party,” remembers Padureanu.
Since 1st LT Albandoz’s passing, Padureanu has tried to remain positive. In addition to honoring her husband by attending military related events, she focuses her time on raising their daughter to ensure she has all she needs for her future education and extracurricular activities.
“I am unable to do justice for how wonderful of a person David was, or perhaps I’d lack objectivity if I tried,” states Padureanu. “I hear all the time, how Aeliana looks just like him, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. I am happy a part of him was left with me in this world. Now I get to enjoy the same shine in my daughter.”
Thanks to the amazing support of the community and sponsors, the 2021 0.5K Event raised a total of $17,600. These funds were divided between Semper Fi and Padureanu, who unlike most Gold Star Families, wasn’t the recipient of her husband’s Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance and Semper Fi Community Task Force of North Alabama.
“We were thrilled to give Nicoleta and Aeliana $15,000 to help offset costs she has incurred because of not receiving some of her husband’s benefits. The Canvas Community Outreach Committee also felt strongly about giving the remaining $2,600 to the Semper Fi Task Force, our nonprofit partner in this event, for their Gold Star Family Programming,” stated Bloxham Curtis.
When being presented her check, Padureanu, who is not accustomed to being the center of attention, emotionally stated, “My family is deeply grateful for the generosity of everyone involved. I believe this initiative is a wonderful way to respect their legacy by cherishing the ones they left behind.”
Canvas extends a heartfelt thank you to the 2021 0.5K Event Sponsors and Partners: i3 Cares, ERC, FirstBank Mortgage, FirstBank, PeopleTec, Five Stones Research Corporation, Torch Technologies, Venturi, Inc, IBERIABANK, MartinFederal Consulting, IronMountain Solutions, CFD Research Corporation, Signalink, JRC Integrated Systems, Mission Driven Research, Vector Wealth Strategies, Schrimsher Company, A-P-T Research, Conditioned Air Solutions, The Showalter Family, The Mojo Radio Show, Semper Fi Community Task Force of North Alabama, and Huntsville Event Company.