What We Hope to Accomplish
This is the first opportunity to put our theories into practice. Time passes, things change and people’s attitudes about current events become fragmented. Different camps develop but the need to help and get involved and stay involved is greater than ever.
Now the war on terror is heating up. Iraq is right around the corner; our troops are massing in the dessert. The world is in a heated discussion and our old friends are not so friendly anymore. Except for Britain who has always followed the advice of Winston Churchill, “Never separate yourselves from the Americans”. It’s a painful thing to watch when the same countries we defeated, liberated, rebuilt and spent billions on their reconstruction and defense; not to mention the lives given – stand on the sideline or worse, oppose us now. But as its been said, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me” or rather…. We the people. In the words of an unlikely hero, whose words will in time be immortalized next to Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson or John Adams… “Let’s Roll”.
We at 9-11HELPAMERICA donated most of the proceeds of our 2nd golf tournament to United Warrior Survivor Foundation. We came upon them like most things we have done so far, by accident. This foundation was just getting started at that time. A friend of Neil Roberts originated it; a Navy SEAL that was blown off a helicopter, onto a mountain in Afghanistan in Operation Anaconda. He survived the fall, fought heroically against an overwhelming enemy but was killed, on a cold and distant mountain, all alone.
This friend, a Navy SEAL himself, began collecting money for the fallen hero’s wife and that is how United Warrior Survivor Foundation originated. Emerson said “What you are shouts so loudly that I can’t hear what you say.” Another famous quote that comes to mind is “don’t speak of love, show me.” These are the people making a difference that we want to help and be associated with. Ordinary Americans, coming up with their own ideas in these unordinary times, implementing them and starting something from the heart.
What we hope to accomplish is to have a successful event, make new friends, and help raise some money for United Warrior Survivor Foundation and hopefully contribute our limited expertise in fundraising to their efforts, and see what happens…. and stay on this path. We can play our golf, worship as we please, enjoy our lives and freedom, our families, our vacations, our BBQs, but more of our guys are going to die fighting this war we didn’t ask for …but have no doubt, we will win it.
What We DID Accomplish
The difference between this event and what we had done in past tournaments was that the United Warrior Survivor Foundation had a clear direction. Their sole purpose is to help the surviving spouses of Special Operations personnel. The singleness of purpose was clearer and easier to communicate and at the same time, it gave us an opportunity to help in a very specific way the families of these fallen Heroes – our Special Operations Soldiers. We began talking about this event in December of 2002. When first asked to help, things were very hot in the Middle East and our guys were getting ready to go into Iraq. We were expecting to have a larger presence of Special Forces Soldiers to come out and play golf with us but by March; we were in Iraq and a lot of these guys were gone. Playing golf would not be on the top on their lists at the moment. But their presence was clearly felt. We took a lot of pride in them and intended in sending a very clear message that the people here at home care.
The tournament was a huge success. First, in my opinion, it was the best tournament we have ever played in or helped organize. We went down to the wire but we did sell out. We had 150 players make it out to the course that day. The people came out for these guys. People like Hugh Hewitt, a national syndicated radio talk show host, several times talked about this event on his show, which helped us not only in recruiting sponsors and golfers but did several interviews with Nick Rocha, President of UWSF and Eric Knirk the VP. We also had Major Bob Bevelacqua, ex-Special Forces Green Beret and a Fox News Military Analyst as our Special Guest Speaker. Major Bob is a young no nonsense guy and one of the more colorful and sought after Military analysts on The Fox News Network. He spoke not so much about the Special Forces, although all of us there knew who we were supporting with the effort, but of how important it is and that it spoke volumes to have the civilian sector take up causes like this. What an important message it sent to the guys in the Special Forces and the military in general. That was probably the most important lesson of all. We, as civilians, by our actions do have an influence on our military in areas like morale. We just want these guys to know that here back home, they only not forgotten but greatly appreciated.
In spite of the War in Iraq, we did have a Special Forces presence there that day. The last group to check in was the Elite Frog Parachute Team, SEALs and X-SEALs who parachuted onto the course, changed from their parachute gear into their golf uniforms, and Gripped it and Ripped it with the rest of us … How cool is that? Several other guys from Special Forces were there that had just recently returned from the Middle East and of course Major Bob was there to speak on behalf of the Special Forces.
Something else happened, there were quite a few guys that heard about the tournament from Hugh Hewitt Radio Talk Show and were themselves ex-Special Forces personnel, some from the Vietnam era and others in more recent conflicts. One thing they shared – they always support their own although they do it in a very quiet and dignified way, without any fanfare. There was that quiet presence there…Like a salute to the ones now carrying the torch from the warriors of the past.
Nick Rocha President of the foundation added a very special award to winners and some of the organizers and sponsors in the form of a paddle beautifully adorned with the emblems of the different branches representing Special Ops. He gave a short talk and explanation of what the significance of paddles and what they represent to the guys that use them to do a job. These awards were a big hit.
So in the end; what did we accomplish? The foundation raised $28,000.00…we sold out the event. We had people like Mjr. Bob Bevelacqua, come out from back east just to be with us to honor our heroes, guys like Hugh Hewitt not only liked what we were doing but actually helped by letting his listeners know. That made us a lot of new friends…quality people eager to help and take part in the event and future events. People like Kim Carpenter who stepped in and took over the silent auction. Veronica Sirotin, a young lady that helped with graphics, Mike Villani, a good looking guy and a television personality, stepped right in and helped as master of ceremonies. It also showed everybody just what an overwhelming support there is for our service men and women. The citizens came out; United Warrior Survivor Foundation established their 1st Annual Golf Tournament and in the process learned about golfers and their willingness to support our guys in uniform…
We at 911HELPAMERICA continue on our path. We have gotten close to the United Warriors and were much honored when they asked us to help. We hope to contribute to their efforts and at the same time, they helped us become better at what we want to do…which is hopefully make a difference and show people that anyone can do this. This is our 3rd tournament since 9/11. They get bigger and better and more people get involved, more people come and play and have a good time.
God Bless all those guys fighting the War on Terror and for the United Warrior Survivor Foundation 1st Annual Tournament…that’s a wrap.