Meet The Founder
Hi, I'm Amy Cotta; I'm the mother of six, a patriot, founder of a national military 501(C)3 nonprofit, and the proud mother of a United States Marine.
In 2011 I signed my only biological son over to the Marine Corps; he was only seventeen at the time. My son went straight from high school graduation to Bootcamp, and I went from being okay to thinking, "OMG! What have I done?!" With the war in Afghanistan showing no signs of letting up and with the loss of American life increasing, I found myself slipping into depression, often crying uncontrollably, wondering, "Had I just sent my son off to war?
While Tyler was away at Bootcamp, I desperately and feverishly looked for ways to feel connected to him. I knew I wanted something special, but it couldn't be just anything. It needed to be something that showed sincere love and gratitude, not only for my son but for all those who served long before him and those who will serve long after him. I also wanted something that I could wear all the time, no matter where I was going.
Unfortunately, my search was in vain; I only found obnoxiously designed patriotic fashions and cheap junk jewelry made in China. Eventually, I gave up my search, but I never gave up my need or want. As time went on, I realized I was not alone; others just like me desired a nonverbal way to show our love, gratitude, and patriotism.
Fast forward to the fall of 2014 after competing at Ironman Chattanooga 140.6 in combat boots and military pack, carrying the photos of 21 fallen American heroes, on that day our nonprofit Memories of Honor was born. During the first year, I quit my job to work Memoires of Honor full-time. We didn't have a 501c3 status at the time, so we couldn't fundraise to support the nonprofit financially. So my husband and I entirely financed the campaign out of our own pockets. We were bleeding money due to the loss of my income, our growing campaign, and expenses. I needed to find a way to stop or slow down the bleeding. One day as I was going through our attic, I came across a pair of my son's JROTC utility pants. I wondered if I could repurpose the pants into something I could wear. I cut and sewed a wrist cuff and attached my dad's Army unit patch to it. That was it! I had found my wearable gratitude.™ I started taking in uniform donations and making/selling ValorBANDS™ for friends and close connections and using the proceeds to help offset our nonprofit funding. After receiving our 501c3 charitable status for MOH, I began to broaden my vision of what ValorBands could be if I treated it like an actual business, taking it from a "funding-hobby" and turned it into a social enterprise / social-good company.
Just this year, I brought on my new partner SFC, Joe James, and I couldn't be happier going on this journey with this American hero whom I'm privileged to call a friend.
With all my heart, I want to thank you for wearing your gratitude, displaying your patriotism, and helping us to honor the service and sacrifice of our military service members (past and present) and their families.
Mother of SGT Zych, USMC