Local USMC wife turns grief into action - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local USMC wife turns grief into action

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - A North County woman has turned grief into action following the death of her marine husband.

Lieutenant Colonel Mario "Sugar Bear" Carazo, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. His wife, Jennifer, is making sure his memory lives on by supporting surviving spouses and children of fallen troops.

"He died doing what I think he was meant to do on this earth," she said.
  
High on top of Mount Soledad, where heroes are honored, is where Lt. Colonel Carazo is memorialized. He would have been celebrating a birthday, but on this day Jennifer came to remember a man who she says put country first.  

"He said to me, better that it's me that dies than some young kid on the ground," she said.

Lt. Colonel Carazo was killed on July 22 when his Cobra was shot down in Afghanistan. The Camp Pendleton marine and father of two was 41 years old.

"We had twenty incredible years and two amazing kids. We have a good life and he's still with us in his own way," she said.

Over the last seven years, the couple's children, Mario 16 and Meela 14, have had to face challenges most have not.  But, in this family's loss and pain has come hope. This 'Gold Star Wife' says she now finds comfort sharing her story and speaking at events. 
          
Last year, it was the creation of The Sugar Bear Foundation that changed everything. 

"It's an extension of what Mario was trying to do. He wanted to serve our country, but he also cared about the families of service members," she said. "He can't be here, so we're going to do that for him."

The non-profit hosts events, raising funds for programs that support surviving spouses and children of fallen service members. 

"I want them to feel that there are organizations that truly care about their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their hero." she said.

Jennifer says she finds solace and strength in her new mission, honoring heroes like hers, while inspiring others.  
 
"You have to stay positive. I never want my kids to look back and think we lost daddy and we lost mom because of this."

If you would like to help Jennifer and The Sugar Bear Foundation with an upcoming event, the foundation will be holding 'Sugar Bear's Crawl For A Cause' this Sunday, June 4. It takes place from 1:00 p.m to 3:30 p.m. at D Street Bar And Grill in Encinitas. Money raised benefits the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors or TAPS.

Some of the footage in this video story was shot using a GoPro camera. 

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