As a way to thank military veterans for their service and to encourage additional employment options once they step out of uniform, the company partnered with Tee It Up for Troops to establish the Heartfirst Foundation. Their first joint initiative — Operation Heartfirst — provides a $125,00 grant plus a $125,000 low-interest loan as base funding to allow a selected military veteran the opportunity to open their own Anytime Fitness franchise. The program specifically targets markets with a high military concentration and, in turn, the goal is for the gym to provide employment for more veterans.
“We chose the general location of where the awardee will build their gym because we want these clubs to open in communities that serve a military base. “Based on these goals, we selected the greater Fayetteville area for the first gym to be built with Operation Heartfirst,” said Mark Daly, national media director with Anytime Fitness.
Tim Wegscheid, president of Tee It Up for Troops, said they sought candidates with distinguished records of military service who were eager to help others lead healthier lifestyles and those who had continued to serve and support the U.S. military and its veterans.
“We looked for candidates with a passion for fitness and community engagement,” Wegscheid said. “The Ambrozewskis fit that description exactly.”
Hannah and Tristan Ambrozewski served as intelligence analysts with the U.S. Army from 2005 to 2012. The couple met at basic training, married, and balanced multiple overseas deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.
Now, both honorably discharged, Tristan continues to perform similar duties for a Department of Defense contractor. After leaving active duty, Hannah said she missed doing physical training every day, so she purchased a small franchise called Stroller Strides, which is a child-friendly fitness program designed for moms and caregivers of little ones.
“I had always wanted to own a gym so that was a great place to start,” she said. “We always wanted to own our own business.”
When the couple learned about the Heartfirst Foundation and its grant program, they quickly applied and were thrilled to be selected. The grant and loan funding provides necessary start-up capital to open their gym.
“We’re incredibly excited to help veterans and non-veterans alike in our community learn how to lead healthier lifestyles,” said Hannah, who will have primary responsibility for the day-to-day operations and management of the gym. “We also love the idea of being able to provide jobs to other military veterans.”
Article by Laura, Douglass, Staff Writer, ThePilot.com
Tee It Up for the Troops founder JB Ball can be heard starting at minute 25 through minute 36 giving an update on all that Tee It Up for the Troops does to honor, remember, respect and support all those who have served for our great nation.
Thank YOU sponsors, donors and volunteers – it is because of YOU that this healing is happening…
From Drew Brandenburg: “I just wanted to let you all know he (Bogey) is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and you guys couldn’t have blessed me any better than by donating the funds (to K9s For Warriors) for Bogey. He has turned my world around and it’s only been 2 months.
“Without organizations like yours soldiers continue to fall and are never able to get back up. Thank you again for all you do and have done, not only for me but for all veterans you connect with.”
Ars Bellum Chief Executive Officer, Bridget Cronin, recalls one recent graduate, a Vietnam veteran who had struck out in several programs, both within and outside the VA. He had attempted suicide three times in recent years and had little hope that art therapy would help.
“By the end of the program he was in tears and said he never would have thought it would have the kind of impact it would have on him,” Cronin said. “It’s given him a way to ‘talk’ about some of the bad traumatic things that happened to him that he had no idea how to otherwise deal with. Just getting that out, getting that weight off his shoulders was a big relief to him.”
DALLAS – More than 100 golfers teed off Wednesday morning to support veterans and their families.
Tee It Up for the Troops, which holds golf tournaments around the country to help raise money for veterans, held its first-ever tournament in Texas.
It took place at Bent Tree Country Club in North Dallas. The day began with an emotional ceremony honoring those who have served and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Tournament organizer Jay Cassen knows how important it is to help support those who have served. He’s a Marine Corps veteran.
“We don’t do enough in the U.S. to support these men and women who basically provide our freedoms,” said Jay Cassen, Tee It Up for the Troops’ Dallas organizer. “So many of them don’t come home, many of them do come home but they’re altered forever.”
Many of the people at the tournament had a close connection to the cause. Some were veterans of recent foreign wars who have lost limbs, or parents who have lost their children to war.
Merrilee Carlson lost her son, Sgt. Michael Carlson, when he served with the U.S. Army in Iraq. She has worked with Tee It Up for the Troops since it began in 2005.
“It is so special to know that Michael’s legacy and what he wants to do lives on through what we do with Tee It Up,” said Carlson. “[Service members] are the strength that keeps us together and defends and protects us every day. We need to take that moment and honor and remember them.”
About 160 golfers participated. Cassen plans to hold the event next year.
Tee It Up for the Troop has given a $7,500 grant to Camp Soaring Eagle for a portion of their Veteran’s Camp costs for November 2015. The Veteran’s Camp offers a tailored service for the men and women who have served for our nation through recreation and relief. The children of military parents are also able to find relief through this incredible camp. Children from the ages of 6 to 15 benefit from an environment of shared feelings and circumstances during the three-day weekend camp. They enjoy playing sports, fishing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, gaming, and archery among sharing stories and learning how to effectively respond to the needs of their parents.
ST. PAUL, Minn. –Men and women from the military community gathered for Tee It Up for the Troops’ 11th Annual National Day of Golf at The Meadows at Mystic Lake, Sept. 11, 2015.
The day of golf included a morning round enjoyed by 100 veterans, free of charge, and a paid-sponsorship tournament in the afternoon. In between the two rounds of golf, hundreds of Service members, veterans, military family members and supporters gathered for an hour-long ceremony to remember 9/11, honor the fallen and recognize service.
“This year’s event was something new for us,” said James Ball, Tee It Up for the Troops founder. “We always try to do an event the Friday before 9/11, but this time with it actually being on September 11 it held extra significance in that we had members of the New York Police Department and Fire Department of New York do a wreath laying ceremony with Minnesota Gold Star Families – they were paying tribute to their fallen just as the families were paying respect to the loved ones they had lost.”
It was a somber conclusion to an inspirational ceremony that began with the arrival of 150 motorcyclists, representing Tribute to the Troops, and included a performance by local music artist Rockie Lynne, presentation of the colors and a traditional rendition of “Amazing Grace” performed by a fully-kilted bagpiper.
“Where else could you find the iron of a golf club mixed with the iron of a Harley Davidson like at today’s event?” said Brig. Gen. Jon Jensen, the Minnesota National Guard’s director of the joint staff, who spoke during the ceremony. “All organizations involved in this event, big and small, have turned hatred into love, heartlessness into compassion, and uncertainty and weakness into commitment and resiliency.”
The fundraising event at Mystic Lake was just one of hundreds of Tee It Up for the Troops fundraisers held at golf courses throughout the country since Ball founded the non-profit organization in 2005. Tee It Up for the Troops uses the funds raised to support veterans organizations and national charities, and 50 percent of funds raised at each event stay in the community which hosted it.
“We are honored that The Meadows at Mystic Lake opened their arms to us,” said Ball. “It’s all about coming together to say, ‘thank you,’ and having them know we appreciate their service.”
The event at Mystic Lake was also unique in that the first-ever “Foam of the Brave” event was also held on Sept. 11. The event included drinks by local craft breweries, live music and performances of songs written and studio-produced by veterans with the help of Creativets, an organization that uses art to overcome service-related trauma.
“I sincerely appreciate the time the energy and the effort it takes to put on such a great event,” said Jensen. “On behalf of the more than 13,000 members of the Minnesota National Guard, and our Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone associated with Tee It Up for the Troops.
“But most of all everyone that came out today to be a part of today’s great event – thank you for caring, thank you for being here.”
September 15, 2015
by Staff Sgt. Patrick Loch
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
Ernie Lamson, a St. Paul native and World War II veteran has been a long-time friend of Tee It Up for The Troops. Ernie plays 18 holes of golf at least twice a week with the “younger fellas,” as Ernie describes them, who are in their 70s and 80s. “I started using a cart for the first time about two years ago after they kept yelling at me to keep up with them,” he says.
Along with golf, Ernie enjoys playing duplicate bridge, doing pushups every morning, and even took part in a tandem skydive jump a few years ago. “I wanted to go solo, but they had rules,” he says of his skydiving adventure. Although Ernie likes to test the limits in the sky, he has taken care of his body claiming he has never smoked a cigarette or drank, quite a feat for a soldier in WWII.
Upon high school graduation, Ernie became a member of A Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division. He completed jump school in 1943, but badly broke his femur during a jump that August. To add to his injury, a handle of the stretcher he was on broke and punctured one of his lungs, and had to spend seven months in the hospital. Due to his injury he missed D-Day, a fact he has bittersweet thoughts about, “the injury probably saved my life.” He was honored and written up in local French newspapers during the 70th anniversary D-Day celebrations in Normandy last year. As a former regiment president and treasurer, he displays his uniform proudly with his military jacket, belt buckle, and parachute graduate bracelet. His 82d Airborne cap serves as a display for a shiny mosaic of gold, silver, and brass-plated military pins. After the war Ernie became an accountant and worked with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. He credits working there for motiving him to donate blood and platelets, which is often needed by cancer patients.
Ernie has been to many of our events, including our Reunion event in Florida last year. He continues to play golf and live his life to the fullest, a great example of an American veteran. We appreciate his support and service!
On June 19, 2015, fun was had, clubs were swung, and friendships were formed. Golfers across the country participated in the 2nd annual golf fundraising event called “Longest Day of Golf for the Troops”. The participants teed off at the crack of dawn and played until the sun went down. The largest gathering of golfers was at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids, MN. This location had twenty golfers participate, with an estimated 1,250 holes played with one single golfer playing 100 holes! Vincent Moore, golfing in Baltimore, Maryland, participated in the event as well. Moore completed 54 holes, and raised almost $1,500 for veterans.
This event was inspired by the book and movie, “The Longest Day,” honoring those who fought for our freedom on D-Day in Normandy (June 6, 1944). The Longest Day of Golf for the Troops is played on a single day over the Summer Solstice, which is the longest weekend of the year.
Among the participants were veterans Tim Ngo, Derek Goodridge, Neil Tollefsrud, Randy McCallum, and Vincent Moore. Jeff Locke, MN Vikings punter, also participated in the event saying, “Both my father and grandfather served in the military and I have a great appreciation for the sacrifices that all of our veterans and their families have made for our country… I hope to raise as much money as I can for this event to continue giving back and supporting veterans here in Minnesota and across the country.” Thanks to the hard work and fundraising efforts of the participants, $23,568 was raised for Tee It Up for the Troops and our partner charitable organizations serving the needs of fallen and disabled veterans and their families. A huge thank you to all those who participated and for your efforts in making this event a huge success in support of America’s veterans!