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Franklin mom sews a legacy of honor for fallen veterans

PHOTO: WZTV

A Franklin mom is on a military mission of her own to sew a legacy of honor for those who've sacrificed so much.

Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives, and others die in combat. Up to 30 percent of veterans live with PTSD.

Amy Cotta makes Valor Bands to honor veterans lives. Valor bands are bracelets and wrist cuffs made from military uniforms donated by service members.

Every Valor Band she makes is an act of love, a story of sacrifice, discipline and freedom.

Amy Cotta upcycles every square inch. She said every cuff tells a story and every band funds an even bigger mission.

The money from the bracelets pays for Cotta to run her non -profit Medals Of Honor. It links runners, triathletes, bikers and Ironman competitors with the families of deceased veterans.

Cotta connects athletes who wants to run in a veteran's memory with families hoping America never forgets their sacrifice.

She cried as she read a portion of a letter an athlete wrote to a family who lost a service member.

“John gave the ultimate sacrifice for our great country and it was an honor to run in his honor,” said Cotta.

Cotta packaged the athlete's letter and their race medal to keep the circle of honor and love going.

“Every family I have had the pleasure of speaking to, they say their greatest fear is that their loved ones' life will be forgotten," Cotta said.

The whole thing happened by accident when Cotta signed for her own son, Tyler, to join the Marines.

“All of the sudden, oh my God, what if something happens to him," Cotta said. "I found myself stuck in this place of fear. I knew I had to take that fear and go and medicate it, or I could take it and I could do something with it.”

So she laced up her combat boots and completed her first Ironman for a fallen veteran who had planned to complete an Ironman himself.

“It wasn't only giving me a healthy outlet, it was empowering other people to do the same," Cotta said.

She started a Facebook page and website so people could connect.

“God showed out. Within the first four weeks, we had 900 people on that Facebook page. I did no advertising whatsoever."

Cotta ultimately had to quit her job as a personal trainer just to meet the demand for Valor Bands and to then keep the medals and letters flowing. It's a race she knows will never have a finish line.

Between her charity and business success, Valor Bands has grown so much that Cotta now plans to employ at-risk veterans to work for her.

She's part of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's new 'I Fund Women' campaign, which helps female entrepreneurs get to the next level.

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