BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Continuing a long tradition of supporting America’s servicemen and servicewomen, B.A.S.S. has signed an agreement with Oklahoma-based Folds of Honor Foundation to assist in its mission to provide educational scholarships to the dependents of soldiers killed or disabled while serving our country.
Under the cross promotional agreement, B.A.S.S. will raise awareness of Folds of Honor among its millions of Bassmaster Magazine readers and Bassmaster.com website visitors. In addition, a special fishing tournament pairing Bassmaster Elite Series anglers with active and retired military personnel will be conducted during Toyota All-Star Week, Sept. 23-29, in Muskegon, Mich.
Postseason Bassmaster events, including the annual Toyota All-Star Week, have traditionally included fishing outings for wounded service members, with America’s top professional bass anglers serving as guides.
Folds of Honor also has been invited to conduct fundraising projects during the All-Star tournament as well as during the 2014 Bassmaster Classic to be held in Birmingham in February. An appeal by Folds of Honor founder Maj. Dan Rooney during a weigh-in ceremony for the 2013 Classic in Tulsa netted more than $20,000 in donations.
Since its inception six years ago, Folds of Honor has raised more than $25 million and funded more than 3,800 educational scholarships for the dependents of service members. Its flagship fundraising projects are Patriot Golf Day on Labor Day Weekend and the Patriot Cup pro-am, gala and concert held in Owasso, Okla., on Memorial Day.
“By providing scholarships and other support, the Folds of Honor Foundation pays tribute to the sacrifices of men and women who have lost their lives or been severely wounded protecting our freedom,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “We are proud to be associated with the foundation and to assist in raising funds for this extremely worthy cause.”
Rooney, a former F-16 fighter pilot, launched Folds of Honor following the second of his three tours of duty in Iraq. Upon returning home from overseas, he was moved by the profound display of a family’s grief as they welcomed home the remains of Cpl. Brock Bucklin. Inspired by the tragic homecoming of a fallen American soldier, Rooney started Folds of Honor in 2007 to support military families in the aftermath of their tragedies.
“We are so thankful for great partners like B.A.S.S. who have stepped up to help fill a gaping need for the families of our heroes,” said Rooney. “There are more than 1 million dependents of fallen or wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan alone and only 87 percent receive federal educational assistance. It’s up to the rest of us to ensure these families are taken care of when it comes to getting the education they deserve.”
Folds of Honor will be promoted on Bassmaster.com and through other B.A.S.S. media and events, and B.A.S.S. will be listed as a partner of the organization on its website and in other media.
Folds of Honor Foundation was founded in May 2007 by Maj. Dan Rooney, a former F-16 Fighter Pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard, PGA Professional, and USGA member. A decorated military pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard, Maj. Rooney has served three combat tours in Iraq. It was after his second tour, while a passenger on a commercial flight, that Maj. Rooney witnessed an event that would profoundly change his life. As the plane landed, the pilot announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have an American hero on board – Cpl. Brock Bucklin. And his twin brother, Cpl. Brad Bucklin, is accompanying him home from Iraq. As a sign of respect, please remain seated while Cpl. Bucklin’s family receives him in his final homecoming.” Maj. Rooney watched through the window of the plane as the flag-draped casket was lowered. He saw a family waiting for Brock, and a little four-year old boy waiting for his father. This tragic homecoming inspired Maj. Rooney to create the Folds of Honor Foundation. For more information, go to www.foldsofhonor.org.