Swansboro resident, Gold Star wife honored with award from Hope for the Warriors


Dawn Cash-Salau and Hope for the Warriors CEO Robin Kelleher (Hope for the Warriors photo)

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Swansboro resident and Gold Star wife Dawn Cash-Salau was recently named a recipient of the Vigiano Family Hope and Courage Award at the Hope For The Warriors Summer Soiree, presented by Siemens Government Technologies.  

Cash-Salau was one of three Vigiano Family Hope and Courage award winners, presented by World Series champions Johnny Bench and Doug Flynn. She was recognized for her journey as a military spouse, Gold Star wife and for continuing to honor her husband’s legacy through college scholarships.

“Service to our country doesn’t end after one retires from the military. An ingrained set of values, convictions and purpose is what sets our military apart,” said Robin Kelleher, Hope For The Warriors co-founder and CEO. “The people we honored are the faces of HOPE. Even when the world tries to squash the light of selfless service, their lives shine with compassion and courage. Their voices and actions have transformed the lives of countless others.”

Named in honor of the Vigiano family, who lost both of their sons in the September 11th attacks, the Hope and Courage Awards are presented to service members and military family members who have demonstrated both hope and courage in the face of extraordinary circumstances.

“I am grateful and honored to be recognized when I feel like there are so many other patriots doing such great work around the country in memory of our heroes,” said Cash-Salau on receiving the Vigiano Family Hope and Courage Award.

Cash-Salau married North Carolina Army National Guard Capt. Christopher S. Cash, an infantry company commander who deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her life changed forever in 2004 when she received a personal visit from the National Guard’s casualty notification officers. Her husband had been killed in action during combat operations. 

Cash-Salau’s resilience and desire to further her late husband’s legacy of selfless service fueled all aspects of her life. She strove to honor his sacrifice in a most public, tangible way — by organizing an event that provides scholarships to college students who emulate his character traits of selfless service and leadership. 

She also created a 10-mile race, Reindeer Dash for Cash, held each December in downtown Greenville. The proceeds from each race are awarded to college students at Chris’ alma maters, North Carolina Wesleyan College and East Carolina University, and to the North Carolina National Guard Educational Foundation. To date, a total of $450,000 has been raised, and 127 students have been awarded scholarships, with a 100% graduation rate among them. 

Today, she is married to retired U.S. Army Lt. Edwin Salau, and resides in Swansboro.

“Dawn devotes her life to living the legacy of service her husband left behind, but she’s a warrior in her own right,” said Kelleher. “She has turned tragedy into hope for herself and for the hundreds of people impacted by her work.” For more information on Hope For The Warriors, visit hopeforthewarriors.org.                                 

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