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IT STARTED WITH A LETTER... The day Wes Weaver read the letter from Michael Nemelka, father of Pfc. Aaron Nemelka, who was killed in the 2009 Fort Hood Army base tragedy, his life changed — and so did his business. Nemelka had written to ask Weaver’s Austin, Texas– based company, Carved Creations Jewelry, to create a bracelet for his wife (and Aaron’s mom), Teena Marie, to commemorate their son’s memory. Weaver and his staff said yes. Then they took the idea one step further.

THAT LED TO A PROGRAM... For two weeks, ending this past Fourth of July, Carved Creations Jewelry rolled out the Fallen Patriot Bracelet Program. A custom bracelet (engraved with name and rank, theater of operations, branch of service, birth and death date) was created and offered free of charge to any spouse or parent who’d lost a loved one in the Afghanistan or Iraq wars. The word went viral, and more than 500 orders were received on the first day alone. Eventually, a total of 1,635 orders came in. With such an overwhelming demand, community volunteers from Weaver’s hometown of Dripping Springs, Texas, worked seven days a week through Labor Day to fulfill the orders.

AND ENDED IN A LEGACY... Custom bracelets, normally $199, will now be sold for $100 for anyone who’s lost a loved one in any war. The full $100 will be automatically donated to fund the 2011 Fallen Patriot Bracelet Program, which will run from June 20 through July 4, 2011. Those who purchase regular custom jewelry from the company will be given the option to donate to the program upon checkout online. Carved Creations Jewelry, 14101 W. Highway 290, Ste. 900, Austin, Texas ; (888) 497-7799; www.ccforlife.com