In one sense, we’ve been a little out of touch with humanity this past week. Haven’t had a living, breathing rebounder in about nine days, and not so coincidentally we haven’t rapped in this space in roughly the same period of time.
On the other hand, we’ve had a terrific week of contact with the outside world, and it really seems that our community is beginning to expand in a substantial and very exciting way.
Reaching the halfway mark on Veterans Day and the subsequent media coverage, including last weekend’s appearance on Huckabee, led to a week of sweatshirt orders and contributions and invitations and offers.
Donations in the past few days have come from far and wide. Nevada. New Jersey. Texas. Tennessee. Indiana. South Carolina. Missouri. California. Massachusetts. Arkansas. Louisiana. Washington. Montana. New York. Wisconsin. Colorado. Minnesota. A few from New Hampshire, of course, and one from Melbourne Northern Territory, Australia.
On a similar note, handing Gov. Huckabee a hooded sweatshirt on his show turned out to be a wise move, as we’ve had dozens of e-mail inquiries for orders (and here I am still plodding along without a store on the website … If you’re interested, they’re $45 each, which includes our cost, shipping and a small donation. Send a check to Hoops For Heroes, PO Box 72, Epsom, NH 03234, and include the size.).
They’re Russell Athletic, by the way. Nice. Soft. Warm. And a tremendous job with the printing by Dale’s Paint’n Place in Newport.
In other news, we’ve recently been invited to shoot in Wichita Falls, Texas, Bentonville, Arkansas, and in a town by one of the greatest names I’ve ever heard, Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Last week, we got this note from the First Lady of Bell Buckle, Carla Webb, whose husband is Mayor:
I coordinate a wonderful wheelchair basketball event here in our little town along with our Bell Buckle Park Board. Please Google our town’s events, like the RC & Moonpie festival in June (draws 20,000 people) or the Webb Craft Fair in October (draws 70,000) … all in a town of 463 citizens! We are a potent little place filled with caring people. I would like to invite you to come to our little town (about an hour from Nashville) and shoot for us. You could make folks in this area aware of your cause and perhaps relish a few donations as well. Our celebrity sponsor this year is SHeDAISY, a beautiful country trio that has been nominated for a Grammy and sold millions of records.
How cool is this country?
We’ve gotten several rebounding offers as well, but maybe the most exciting piece of all has come from a number of groups that want to run HFH fundraisers of their own. A team in Washington, another in Cheney, Kansas, and one in Jacksonville Florida — all considering shooting/pledge drives. And Gunalche’esh! to Tammi Meissner in Wrangell, Alaska (an island above Ketchikan and below Juneau), who is hoping to put together a fundraiser in her community after the new year. Then there’s J.D. Cataline at High Five Sports in Findlay, Ohio, who is interested in hosting a shooting contest at his store in order to raise money for the cause.
And finally, this: On Friday we received an American flag from Colonel Lorenzo Valenzuela, stationed at Fort Eggers in Afghanistan, along with a goosebump-inspiring letter addressed to our Hoops For Heroes family, thanking us and reminding us of the men and women whom we’re honoring with our project:
If you saw them on the street or at a Red Sox game, they would look just like everybody else. However, the great Americans in today’s military are some of the most amazing people around today. They leave their families, travel around the world, endure danger that could take their life at any moment, all to protect our freedom and bring freedom to people they have never met and will probably never see again.
He then shared an anecdote about one of those amazing people …
I was recently visiting a troop hospital near Marjah and there was a Marine being treated for his wounds. He was from Huntington Beach, California (dude) and was the class geek in his high school. He knew all there was to know about computers and electronics and he was moved by the call to duty after high school. He joined the Marine Corps and became a radio operator for his platoon radio. He quickly realized that he was the most valuable target in the platoon because he had an antenna in the air and a Lieutenant by his side. Every time the antenna went up, the shots started coming in at him and the Lieutenant. When I met him in the hospital, he had been wounded for the third time in three months (foot, chest plate and arm) and each time, he called in help for the platoon, called in the medical helicopter for him and his fellow Marines, returned well aimed fire on the enemy and he never left his Lieutenant’s side until the battle was over. He is quite an amazing young man and I will never forget him. By the way, he is only 19 years old, but far wiser and more mature than most men his age. He is our defender and we can all sleep better knowing he stands between our families and the bad people of the world. It is even better to know that there are thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen just like him to protect us from harm.
The flag and certificate above were also included in the package from Col. Valenzuela. I’ll hold onto both, on behalf of all of us, as reminders that we’re on the right track.