Marie Tillman knows that life has a tendency to change in an instant. In 2002, she and her husband, Pat, were enjoying life as newlyweds. At the same time, Pat's career as an NFL safety was taking off.

Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Pat turned down a multi-million-dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to become an Army Ranger. He served several tours of duty before he was killed during a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan in 2004.

Tillman will discuss how she found the strength to rebuild her life and become an outspoken advocate for veteran affairs at the 2012 Center for HOPE Annual Luncheon. The event will take place Tuesday, May 8, at 11 a.m. at the Country Club of Darien.

In her book, "The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss & Live," Tillman recounts how one of Pat's final letters helped her overcome the tremendous grief surrounding his untimely death. In 2004, Tillman established the Pat Tillman Foundation, an organization dedicated to assisting veterans and military spouses through education and community.

All proceeds will benefit the Center for HOPE and The Den for Grieving Kids, Family Centers' programs offering critical illness and bereavement support to residents of lower Fairfield County. For ticket information or sponsorship opportunities, visit www.familycenters.org or contact Aleksa Lazarewicz at 203-869-4848 or alazarewicz@familycenters.org.

Family Centers is a private, nonprofit organization offering education and human services to children, adults and families in Fairfield County. More than 1,700 professionals and trained volunteers work together to provide a wide range of responsive, innovative programs. A United Way, Community Fund of Darien and New Canaan Community Foundation partner agency, Family Centers is a member of the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies and the Alliance for Children and Families and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The agency is licensed by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Visit www.familycenters.org or www.facebook.com/familycentersinc for additional information.

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