Virginia Beach Fallen Heroes (VBFH) is a group of grateful local residents and business leaders from Virginia Beach and the surrounding community.  Its members have come together over the years to dedicate their time and efforts coordinating two major fundraising events, The Charity Golf Tournament every May and FREEDOMFEST every September. The proceeds from these events go to organizations that benefit our Navy SEALS and their families, support staff and local police and rescue squads.

Steve Gonzalez
President of the VBFH Board of Directors

SOCM, USN, (Ret.) Steve “Gonzo” Gonzalez is the President of the VBFH Board of Directors.  He was Warfare Relations since 2016. Gonzo graduated BUD/S Class 218 and was stationed at SEAL Team Two, SEAL Team Four, Navy Special Warfare Group Two, TRADET 2 and retired in 2016. He has since joined FORCE BLUE, the only non-profit organization in the world that retrains and redeploys former Special Operations Veterans and military-trained combat divers to assist in marine and coral reef conservation efforts.

He is the current President of the VBFH and our main point of contact within the Naval Special Warfare community and dealing with military affairs.

Steve Gonzo
Jim Denning
Jim Denning

Jim Denning was born in Patuxent River MD to USN Capt. Bill and Irene Denning (RET). After being stationed in Virginia Beach for 12 years, their family was transferred to Key West where his father took over Naval Operation as Commanding Officer of NAS Key West.  After school, Jim moved back to Virginia Beach to continue his education. He currently works for the Port Of Virginia as an Operations Manager at NIT.


Jim is a Founding Board Member of the Virginia Beach Fallen Heroes which he and other board members established to build support for the local Naval Special Warfare Group and Seal Team Families. He is responsible for the acquiring alcohol sponsors and products, beer trucks, and setting up the bars to be manned by local restaurants who support the SEAL Team community.


When there’s down time he enjoys surfing with his friends or spending time and being talked into buying things with his 13-year-old daughter Ainsleigh.

Catie Coleson
Catie Coleson

Catie Coleson grew up in Virginia Beach.  Several members of her family were in the Navy; providing her with the sense of duty to serve in a different capacity. Catie’s professional background of service began in the restaurant industry, leading her to work as a Food and Beverage Director for a sub-command of the Navy, MWR. Catie is a certified Food Management Professional and her extensive food and beverage experience includes back of the house, front of the house, management, and workforce development. After over 25 years of food service Catie graduated with her bachelor’s degree in human resources, made a career change and is currently working as a Training Specialist at Military Sealift Command.


Catie has been to every VBFH event and began volunteering at the 2nd event. In 2019 she coordinated the VBFH VIP area, including food and set up.  In 2021 she was nominated and elected to be the VBFH Secretary. Her ties to the military community provide a strong motivation to volunteer at the events.


Catie and her husband have 4 kids and 2 pit bulls. They are Jeepers that love reggae music and enjoy supporting local bands.

Linda Stephens

Linda is originally from Massachusetts and grew up on Cape Cod. She moved to Virginia Beach in 2002.


Linda is a Small Business Banker and Relationship Manager with Wells Fargo Bank in the Hilltop area of Virginia Beach. She brings decades of experience in financial services, management, small business ownership, fundraising and volunteerism.


Linda is currently the Treasurer of Virginia Beach Fallen Heroes (VBFH) and has been a member of the Board of Directors for several years. She brings extensive fundraising experience from many other boards and committees that she has served on within her community. Linda spends over 150+ volunteer hours per year dedicated to those charities closest to her heart.  VBFH, Maci’s Ride for Autism and The Pink Ride for Breast Cancer Awareness; where she also serves as their Treasurer.


Linda is an avid reader, loves to travel and when she’s not working at Wells Fargo or volunteering, you can find her supporting local businesses enjoying great food and drinks while spending time with her friends.

Michelle Brinkley
Michelle Fleming Banner

Michelle Brinkley and her husband, Dave, are residents of Virginia Beach.  Michelle brings many years of experience with other charitable organizations such as the Southeastern YMCA and The Boys & Girl’s Club of Southeastern Virginia.  She also served on her daughter’s high school Booster Club as President and Treasurer.


When not volunteering, Michelle is in Real Estate. Development with her father at Tri-City Developers, LLC for the last 18 years.  Michelle and Dave enjoy spending time with their 3 children and grandchildren and of course, their dog, Cali.  Most weekends. You can find them at the beach or riding their Harley.


As the Sponsorship Coordinator, Michelle hopes to continue to grow the Virginia Beach Fallen Heroes organization.

Byron Madden
Director of Operations

Byron grew up in a military family and knows firsthand the sacrifices of service members and their families.  When people learned his father was a Marine, Byron was often asked where they had been stationed.  Having tired of running through the numerous countries, states, cities and schools, he finally came up with an easy answer…”Camp You Name It”.

As with other Board Members, Byron became involved with the VBFH after the tragedy of August 6, 2011.  After the first event, Byron found the response of active duty and retired military personnel to be unreal. “I remember someone coming up to me thanking me and telling me how much it meant to know that there were civilians out there who cared.” Right then, he knew VBFH was the place for him.  Byron is in charge of the operations of our events and does an incredible job coordinating between numerous vendors as well as taking on the tedious task of complete set up and breakdown of everything required to make our events a huge success.

Byron Madden
Charity Madden

A true native of Va. Beach, Virginia, Charity fell in love with the restaurant/ bar business while working her way through college. She earned a B.A. from Old Dominion University in Secondary Education but could not stray from her true passion. She became the owner of South Beach Grill in 2006, after bartending there for 12 years. She prides herself in her friendly staff and the best live entertainment. Charity is responsible for booking and scheduling all entertainment for VBFH events. She has organized and participated in several fundraisers throughout the years to help those in need. She is inspired by our military, who give selflessly to help others and fight to defend this nation’s freedom. Charity believes in “paying it forward” and she is proud to be an American!

Charity Madden | VBFH
Caron Sanson
Caron Sanson

Caron is an original Board member. She was raised in a Navy family in this military community and feels a powerful connection to the military and helping service members. In August 2011, Caron jumped into the VBFH with both feet to design and print promotional and event signage for the initial fundraising event that was held in September 2011.

Caron brings with her a lot of fundraising experience. She has computer graphic and printing experience, and started her own banner/flag printing company, “Let it Fly Banners & Stuff”, in 2019.