Thursday, December 1, 2011

And Away We Go!!

Today we went live on our website.  After working for the past three months on the layout with Deb and Glenn from Wolf Run Internet Marketing and messaging with Paul from Rust Reviews, LLC, this is a very good day.  I must admit, I feel like a proud father seeing this site come alive.

Hopefully, you will look through this site and understand what we are about and why we feel so passionately about our mission.  The words explain who we are, but the images tell our story.  If you see a picture and say “Wow, I get it!” or it tugs at your heart, the picture was probably taken by Julia Robinson.  Julia is one of God’s angels sent to bring fresh eyes and an open mind to help us communicate our message when those of us who are too close to it can’t.  Thank you, Julia.

Tomorrow morning, I leave Houston to pick up two wounded warriors from Walter Reed flying into San Antonio, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, to head to a trophy whitetail deer hunt at Burts Ranch outside of Del Rio, Texas.  We will be joined by two WW’s from Brook Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio and a retired Army Strong who now lives in Tomball, Texas.  This hunt is one of our favorites each year.  The great hunting and “you are family” environment are guaranteed to give our warriors a life-long memory.

I would like to use this hunt and the support we have received from Kyle Burts, his family and friends to illustrate an ideal partnership between PHO, a dedicated, patriotic host and a small town family with a passion for service and charity – the Mueller Family of Tomball.  Together, we are able to provide a very special gathering to a very deserving group of our service families.

Burts Ranch is owned by Kyle Burts and his parents.  Professionally, they operate Burts Construction in Tomball, but you can tell the ranch is where their hearts are.  Over the past several years, they have built a showcase of Texas whitetail deer where “management bucks” score between 125 and 140 (for the unschooled, that is BIG).  Their team at the ranch includes business and ranch employees and close friends who serve as hunting guides.

Kyle offered to host a hunt three years ago.  We sent several wounded warriors from Walter Reed.  Kyle also arranged for the hunting show “Drop Zone” to film the hunt.  There was an immediate bond between the Burts Ranch crew and our guests.  They still communicate to this day.

Last year, I accompanied four wounded from Walter Reed and their escort for the hunt - another great trip with new friends all around.  None of the warriors had ever been to Texas, so on the way down we stopped at the Frio River crossing to take a picture of the sign to honor George Strait’s song All My Exes Live in Texas.  After the hunt we had dinner at Pappasito’s Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio where they sampled a margarita/sangria drink called “The Wave.”

Mueller's Annual Benefit Cook-off Donation
is greatly appreciated

The Mueller Family of Tomball has done a BBQ Cook-off Competition/Fundraiser for the past twenty-five years.  What started as two brothers betting on who made the best brisket has grown into a fundraising event with over fifty teams competing.  Each year, they pick a different organization to receive the donation from the cook-off and auction.  Kyle convinced them in 2011 to designate Hunts For Heroes (our former organization) as the recipient of their collective donation.  They raised $19,000 for our cause.

Billy Hodges, the founder of Hunts For Heroes and current Vice President of Patriots and Heroes Outdoors, myself, and our wives attended the cook-off.  We were completely blown away by the outpouring of support and generosity shown by the fine people of Tomball.  The auction turned into a spirited duel for each item on the block.  One group pooled their money to win a rifle just so they could give it to a local wounded warrior who was attending with his family.  Upon receiving his gift, he asked the assembled crowd to pause and say a silent prayer for his “brothers-in-arms” who were still fighting for our freedom.  Not a dry eye in the place.

I will post pictures from this year’s hunt when I return.  Doubt I can beat the one that is on our web site entitled “He Ain’t Heavy” on our Mission Statement page.  That is Kyle Burts carrying a wounded warrior piggyback to get to a deer blind.  That same soldier insisted on personally dragging his trophy deer back to the truck after the hunt.  Kyle provided the propulsion.  A Patriot and his Hero.

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