Celia Belt, Founder
“My mission is to let fellow burn survivors know they are not alone. I want to offer a hug, a smile, and a heart that cares. It is crucial to educate the public about the needs of burn survivors and their families as well as the lack of services available to them. We are here to care for burn survivors, their families and those who have lost a loved one to a burn injury.”
Celia Belt is the founder of the award winning, Moonlight Fund Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides financial, emotional and in-kind assistance to burn and blast survivors and their families. A burn survivor herself, Celia noticed the need for care and support for burn survivors throughout the country, and, along with Henry Coffeen III, she started the charity in 1998 in San Antonio, Texas. Since then, the organization has helped nearly 12,000 people across the U.S.
Celia oversees grant writing, program development, event planning and fundraising for The Moonlight Fund. Additionally, she works hand-in-hand with staff members, attends monthly board meetings and coordinates activities and meetings involving partners and sponsors. Celia also provides support to burn survivors and their families by visiting them at the hospital, hosting support groups and by providing them with information, and access to funding. She also organizes and executes award-winning healing retreats for burn survivors and her families. Celia has been providing her services pro-bono for the past 21 years.
Before starting The Moonlight Fund, Celia spent 8 years in commercial and residential real estate. She received many awards in this field, including top producer, top agent and rookie of the year. Celia also spent 7 years as a national sales manager for food manufacturer VanHoltens where she successfully led a team of 280 food brokers nationwide. Celia was hands on in the development of marketing, branding, sales and new product introduction. During her time at the company she increased distribution from 7 to 31 states.
Celia has serves as a public speaker for the Moonlight Fund and other organizations. In 2012, she was invited to speak at the Pentagon on behalf of the Moonlight Fund, when the charity was named the top non-profit in the country and given the Fisher House/Newman’s Own Award for improving the quality of life of military members and their families. Her audience included key military members like General Martin E. Demsey and Admiral Winnefeld. Celia continues to speak on several topics, on behalf of the needs of burn survivors, non-profit management, overcoming childhood trauma and women’s empowerment.
Celia and the Moonlight Fund have received numerous awards. In addition to the Moonlight Fund being named the top non profit in the country, Celia was awarded the business journals- Woman in Leadership Award and was chosen as a mentor, three years running for the Business Journals, Mentoring Monday. Most recently, Celia was presented with the Distinguished Citizen Medal by the Daughters of the American Revolution. (DAR) She also sits on several committees at the American Burn Association.
Originally from Rockford, Illinois, and now a Bandera, Texas resident, Celia has published various articles in prominent publications including San Diego Magazine, San Antonio Medical Magazine, Dallas Safari Club, The New York Times and others, her book, Remarkably Intact, launched in 2018 and has received multiple outstanding reviews and been nominated for several awards. All proceeds benefit the Moonlight Fund. Celia is a member of the Phoenix Society, American Burn Association, National Association of Women Business Owners, Association of Fundraising Professionals and the San Antonio Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on the Aftercare Reintegration Committee at the American Burn Association.
When Celia is not caring for burn survivors or writing grants, she enjoys spending time with her three children Justin, Jarred and Hillary and her grandson, Korben. She has been an equestrian for many years, and although retired from competing, she still enjoys riding on her ranch. Celia also enjoys the outdoors, fishing, hunting and working on the land.
Henry F. Coffeen III, Co-Founder
On a sunny November afternoon, I finished my pre-flight inspection and hopped into the cockpit of my custom-built EDGE 450 aerobatics monoplane. The sky had never seemed bluer, the hum of the engine as I took off, never sweeter. I headed into an upside-down half outside loop with a two-point roll followed by a snap roll. Sheer exhilaration surged through me as I shot skyward. What was that? A damp and acrid fluid soaked my arms and chest. Fuel! Ruptured fuel tank! As I righted the plane, the cockpit filled with flames.
Beating at my burning clothes with one hand, I switched off fuel, mags, master switch, and dropped into a nosedive. If the wind doesn’t put this out fast I’ll be too low to jump! Plunging, I opened the canopy and released the seat belts. Groping for the D-ring on my parachute, I ejected at 400 feet. Where’s that ring? The Velcro that should have held it to my chest had burned away. I was free-falling. Then my fingers closed on the ripcord. I yanked it and felt my body hoisted upward. The ground quickly closed in, knocking the wind out of me. I tugged off the melted mass that had been my goggles and looked down. The fire was out, but my arms were absolutely white. I’m burned bad. My lovely plane was a smoking tangle of metal. I wrestled out of my chute and started walking. I walked the whole way to the airfield, three-quarters of a mile, before the pain began. I remember the helicopter trip, being wheeled into the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center. The medical team cut away what was left of my clothes. Then a mask closed over my nose and mouth and I sank into blackness. That first pain-racked week at B.A.M.C. burn unit was a battle simply for survival. Once I was stabilized, the grafting began, using unburned skin from my back, thighs, and scalp. During two lengthy operations the grafts were secured with more than 3,000 staples through my flesh. Here I was, the self-made guy, lying helpless in a hospital bed. How much more torture could I endure? The physical therapy to stretch the healing skin was agony, but the worst was the scrub baths – two a day. The nurses were merciless in their mission to rub every inch of my flesh raw. No screaming or pleading would sway them, and as the hour approached I’d actually cry in dread. Gritting my teeth as the brutal brush scoured away, I’d think, I don’t even have say-so over my own skin. The nurse lifted me back onto my bed. Each touch, even the breeze he stirred as he left, brought tears to my eyes. After a month in the hospital I was released to continue my recovery. With me came a whole new orientation. Physical & occupational therapies were grueling and I, the self-reliant guy, was learning another kind of reliance.
Today I can hide the scarring except on my hands. I’m not sorry it shows. It’s a reminder of other hands with scars on them. Henry currently lives in the Fort Worth area with his wife Trish and their five children.
*Henry stays busy running multiple companies including: Coffeen Management – Automotive Consulting; Jet Link – Aircraft Management; Lone Star Yamaha; and GI Tax – Tax Service. Henry has returned to his love of flying and pilots his personal jet for business & pleasure. Henry’s legacy of giving to those less fortunate is a founding principle of Moonlight Fund.
The Family of Ben Jones, Co-Founder
On July 28, 2000, Benjamin Scott Jones was injured in a car accident in Caldwell, Texas. He suffered burns over 45% of his body and was air lifted to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He lived on the Burn Unit in critical condition for 36 days. On September 1, 2000, he passed away from pneumonia. Ben was 22 years old, a student at the University of Houston and a decorated ROTC Cadet in the University of Houston Cougar Battalion.
Moonlight Fund’s founding efforts were assisted by Ben’s parents, Scott & Doris Jones, and uncle, Chuck Jones. We are grateful to them for their support of Moonlight Fund.