Brian and Nicki Bunting were one of those couples that people expect to be together forever. They met in the sixth grade and immediately became best friends. After high school, the pair separated while Nicki attended college, and Brian went to West Point. When Brian completed his first tour of duty in Korea, he returned to his hometown, and the couple resumed dating.
After marrying, Nicki and Brian welcomed their first child, Connor, in 2008. Soon after, Brian was deployed to Afghanistan, where he was killed in action in early 2009. A few days after receiving the devastating news, Nicki discovered she was pregnant again. While this event seemed like a miracle in the midst of tragedy, Nicki was further saddened by realizing that her new son, Cooper, would never see his father or know his love.
In addition to Brian’s family and her own relatives, Nicki turned to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which was founded 20 years ago by Bonnie Carroll who lost her own husband in a military plane crash. Through the organization, Nicki and her children have found love and support by bonding with other families and participating in events like Winter Wonderland, which provides Christmas toys for the children.
While Nicki knows her children feel the absence of their father, she knows they can always turn to TAPS for help and extra love. She says that her life is now easier, knowing that her sons will always be loved and cared for.