First of all, we want to continue the Annual September 11th Memorial Golf Tournaments. This was our very first attempt at getting involved in the War on Terror. We didn't know what we were doing at the time or even planning anything other than one tournament. We had just two goals, to put on an event and see if people would respond, and then to take the money raised and donate it to a surviving spouse or family who had lost a loved one in the World Trade Center Towers. We overcame a few obstacles quickly and creatively and actually pulled it off. When we came up with the idea, the first thing we thought was, would people even take us seriously? And would we even be able to find a family to donate the money to? A good question even now.
To solve our first challenge, we approached Pastor Jim Chaney of Church of the Beach Cities and asked if he would hold the proceeds for us and at the end, write a check to whomever we indicated. This solved a couple of problems: the non-profit status and avoiding having to say "make the check payable to me." I remember Pastor Chaney's response when we asked him if he would do us the favor of collecting the money. He said, "I'd be honored," and by and large, a similar response has come from many people.
Everyone was so emotional and excited after the first event that they wanted to do another, so we did. We learned a few lessons early on. When we asked for financial support for the second tournament several months later, some responses were very interesting. I'll never forget one of the first questions asked: "Don't you think those people are already over funded?" It hadn't even been a year and the mood by some was already changing, not by us, but by some.
Then we tried an interesting experiment. We went to a local elementary school and asked one of the teachers if his students would help us in finding a worthy recipient for the proceeds of the next tournament. We knew this would be good for the kids and also for us. Who could criticize kids, right? They were great...They chose the organization Save the Children. We gave Save the Children $1,000.00 on their behalf. About the same time, we were introduced to a group called the United Warrior Survivor Foundation. This group had just gotten started. Their specific purpose was to help the surviving spouses of Special Forces. The War in Afghanistan had taken the life of a friend of one of the co-founders and he began to collect money for the widow, and from that grew the idea and the United Warrior Survivor Foundation. We donated the balance of the proceeds from our second golf tournament to them. By the end of the second tournament we had raised and donated over $16,000.00.
U.W.S.F. approached us to help them with their first golf tournament and on May 13, 2003, we helped organize the United Warrior Survivor Foundation 1st Annual. We had a great time doing it, made lots of friends, sold out the event and raised over $28,000.00 for the foundation. Last year's success story got us drafted for the 2nd Annual. This year on May 11th, we had another huge tournament, sold out again, and raised over $22,000.00 for the foundation. Straight from the beginning, we have set out to show that anyone one can make a difference, and our hope is that if we document the experience so as to show others what is possible, it will encourage them to get involved. When we started, we didn't know where this would lead but we've come to the conclusion that we can help.
The trouble with something like what we've been doing is once you get started, it's hard to stop, especially at this time when the need for support of all our troops is greater than ever. More than before, if we continue we need to organize our little team, get better at what we do, and do it. For that reason we have formed our own non-profit Foundation: The 9-11 HelpAmerica Foundation. That's what we've been calling ourselves ever since Sept 11, 2001 anyway. After WTC attack and the billions of dollars donated to the families by the American people, which incidentally was not getting to them, our question was a very simple one. How difficult would it be to put on an event and find a deserving family and give them the money and could we get other people to do the same thing?
So we are still asking that question three years and four events later, with approximately $65,000.00 raised and donated - all on volunteer time and money. New questions emerge. Where can we go from here? And how can we get more people involved? Let's for a while help our young men and women in uniform and their families. They seem to understand something a lot of us don't but are coming to believe, and that is FREEDOM ISN'T FREE. They pay with their young lives so we can be free. Is that what they mean by a Hero?
This is what we hope to accomplish. To start this foundation and help the guys fighting this war and the brave surviving spouses and children they leave behind. Continue forward with an open mind and with golf tournaments you won't want to miss. That's the plan Stan...
9-11 HelpAmerica Foundation