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!
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!
There’s still more than two months left in 2014 but we’re already overwhelmed by all the support and effort of our partners, organizers, participants, donors, sponsors, and especially all our military veterans and families. Putting on these special charitable golf events to help fund and support our disabled veterans takes much time and effort by our partners. We can’t express how deeply blessed we are to have so many people engage and support the mission of our organization.
Whether you’ve ever attended one of our special fundraising events or are an active participant or volunteer, we’ve put together this short video capturing the essence of some of our 2014 charitable golf events.
Tee It Up for the Troops – Mirasol – November 8, 2014
Tee It Up for the Troops – Addison Reserve – November 21, 2014
Tee It Up for the Troops – Tucson – December 6, 2014
Thanks again to all the people who make our golf fundraising events for disabled veterans a success and the military men and women who continue to protect our great nation!
The SeaCliff tournament is one of many tournaments providing an opportunity to show gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices made by our brave service men and women. Attendees include military families, fellow patriots, honored wounded warriors and active duty military guests. In addition to a great day of golf, incredible on-course food and drink, and a fabulous dinner banquet, guests and sponsors have the opportunity to view military displays and experience the thrill of a fly-over. This memorable event touches the hearts of all in attendance!