Through the fog could be seen nearly 50 veterans, many showing visible signs of injury, some missing an arm, others a leg. With cameras and phones in hand, they gathered around rows of white folding chairs near the end of the range.
They were there to see David Leadbetter and Lydia Ko.
The World No.1 LPGA golfer, Lydia Ko, joined instructor David Leadbetter in leading a clinic for Tee It Up For the Troops, an organization that reconnects soldiers who are wounded, injured, or ill at an annual REUNION event. This year, 45 veterans reunited during the four-day event at, by no coincidence, Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida.
“It’s an exciting day,” says Tarryl Clark, Chair of the HomeFront Resource Center. “We had hundreds of people who participated in some way — volunteers or golfers at the event — who helped raise a good chunk of this money.”
Clark, who is also Dean of Sciences, Technology and Math at the school, says they are currently raising money for the design phase of the HomeFront Center.
“The enthusiasm and commitment [seen] from everybody here to continue to be a part of this is really exciting.”
The HomeFront Resource Center, which is expected to open in the fall of 2017, will provide information, counseling, and other services to the veteran community.
The donated funds were raised at the 2015 Tee It Up for the Troops events held at the St. Cloud Country Club and Mendakota Country Club.
Military Network Radio with Linda Kreter & co-host Pamela Stokes Eggleston presents:
Combat Affected Veterans & the Game of Golf…
Golf. It’s more than just a game. The intrinsic power of a new skill, renewed independence, networking, the great outdoors, the greens, and being with other veterans and golfers is all part of the value and benefit of golf. More than anything, the sport of golf, the camaraderie of veterans, and the amazing feats they have accomplished on and off the course set a new standard of friendship and respect.
Communities also benefit from meeting and playing competitively with veterans to help bridge that “sweet spot” of understanding between military and civilian members.
Tee It Up for the Troops, a growing non-profit organization serving our military veterans, is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN and has an exciting new opportunity. We are adding a full-time Manager – Events and Business Development position to our team to manage many aspects of our fundraising golf events across the country. Primary responsibilities include planning, development, marketing and communication of key initiatives to community volunteer committees.
We need a talented individual who brings a strong focus to best practices and ensures alignment with our organizational mission. Must be a strong and effective communicator, be self-directed, and experienced with sales prospecting and revenue generation. The ideal candidate will possess the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in Business or a related field and 3 years minimum experience in a sales or business development role. Knowledge of golf fundraising events considered beneficial. Please note that Tee It Up for the Troops is proud to be a veteran friendly organization and will give priority to veterans. A full Job Description is available upon request.
At Camp Soaring Eagle, they have been talking about what a difference Tee It Up for the Troops has made in the lives of kids whose parent(s) are veterans and/or are currently deployed. Thanks to a grant from Tee It Up for the Troops, the children and families greatly benefit from their camping experience at Camp Soaring Eagle. Participants enjoy fishing, archery, horseback riding, arts & crafts, and a number of other activities.
Katie Deutschman with Camp Soaring Eagle said, “Thank you ever so much for helping us to make it happen… the relief, the smiles, and the fun that the children drink up while they are at camp!”
Founded in 2002, Anytime Fitness is a fast-growing franchise chain that recently opened its 3,000th gym worldwide. But how this particular franchise opened has a distinctly local flair.
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
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!
Through a generous partnership with Textron Specialized Vehicles, Tee It Up for the Troops recently donated a street ready six passenger EZ GO golf cart for the Adaptive Sports and Recreation program at the Military Advance Training Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda.
The golf cart will allow the rehabilitation staff to meet increased demands for transport of returning service members with disabilities to the various athletic facilities located on base for treatment.
Disabled service members will also have increased access to base resources which will provide for additional opportunities for independent exploration of adaptive sports and recreation, stimulating patient mental and physical capabilities in hopes that they utilize their experiences when transitioning back into their communities.
COL Matthew St Laurent, Chief, Occupational Therapy, Department of Rehabilitation expressed his appreciation of this donation stating, “As usual, TEE IT UP FOR THE TROOPS has provided us with remarkable support and we cannot thank you enough on behalf of our staff and patients, their families, and our rehab mission …Thank you for your ongoing support of our Warrior Rehab mission.”
Do you have unwanted golf clubs packed in the corner of your garage? Tee It Up for the Troops has partnered with 2nd Swing so you can donate those golf clubs and benefit Tee It Up for the Troops!
The process is simple. All you have to do is ship your used and unused golf equipment to 2nd Swing. 2nd Swing will assess the value of your donation. That value will then be donated to Tee It Up for the Troops and a donation receipt will be sent within 3-4 weeks of receiving donation.
Donating equipment is another way to help support Tee It Up for the Troops. By converting your unwanted golf equipment into a cash donation to Tee It Up for the Troops, you will help grow and benefit our organization and the veterans we support!