Are You A Rugged Maniac? Series of Obstacle Races Support Team USO

How far are you willing to go to support our troops?

Would you leap over burning coals? Low-crawl through the mud under barbed wire? Traverse cargo netting, hop through a series of tires and navigate a balance beam over a pit?

The USO was well-represented at the May 4 Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Race in Richmond, Va. USO photos by Joseph Andrew Lee

The USO was well-represented at the May 4 Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Race in Richmond, Va. USO photos by Joseph Andrew Lee

If you want an opportunity to challenge your endurance and reach physical goals you never thought possible in support of troops and their families, then you should join Team USO this year in the Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Race.

“We’re very excited about the good things we can accomplish together,” said Rugged Races CEO Bradford Scudder. “The USO’s mission aligns with that of Rugged Maniac by recognizing and supporting our troops and their families.”

Rugged Maniac – which has announced 22 events in 2013 and expects more than 200,000 participants – hopes to raise $1 million in support of the USO.

“It’s a realistic goal,” Scudder said. “If each of our participants donates $5, we’ll get there. And this is a wonderful cause, so of course there will be individuals who’ll go above and beyond that $5 donation.”

As an official Team USO fundraiser, each participant’s goal is to raise $300 for troops and their families. In turn, the USO will deliver free training designed to fit each runner’s lifestyle, a fully customizable personal fundraising webpage, coaching, mentoring, registration to the event of your choice and a Team USO T-shirt to wear at the event.

From boot camp to battlefield back home again, the USO is the only organization that always stands by the side of troops and their families.

“Being able to stop in just about any airport in the United States and around the world … in every country I’ve ever been deployed to, there’s always a USO there that’s set up,” said Fort Lee NCO Academy 1st Sgt. Charles Badgley after the Rugged Maniac 5K in Richmond, Va. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a trailer, or if it’s a tent, or whatever the case may be, it gives us that touch of home, and we know that it’s almost 100 percent volunteer effort to give back to the soldiers so, it’s a really great thing.”

Team USO will enter teams in Rugged Maniac races around the country from now through December.

Team USO will enter teams in Rugged Maniac races around the country from now through December.

Team USO members are crucial to supporting that cause. On race day, they get VIP treatment including free parking and race photos from the official photographer. All the money raised by Team USO participants goes directly to their local USO.

“We’ve run in a couple of these and for us, because fitness is such a big deal, you know, and you have to make it exciting for yourself, this is one of the best ways to do it,” Badgley said. “It’s good to get out here and bang your knees up a little bit but also get a good run in at the same time.” – Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

Say It With Flowers

Search for "USO" on the FTD Flowers site to find some extra patriotic gifts!

Search for “USO” on the FTD Flowers site to find some extra patriotic gifts!

This time of year, the most popular USO partner promotion is with FTD Flowers! You’re probably not surprised, but no less delighted to learn of the details: for all of 2013, FTD will be offering customers who visit ftd.com/uso a 20% discount on flowers, plants and gifts AND will donate 5% of the purchase price to the USO.

“We are proud to forge a strong partnership with a wonderful, well-respected organization like the USO,” said Rob Apatoff, president of FTD. “The men and women of the U.S. Military perform an invaluable service to this country and we are proud to support an organization that provides them with so many important services and programs.”

In addition, FTD is delivering 10,000 flowers to USO centers about the country next Friday! The centers will be handing them out to service men and women to keep or give to their own mothers for Mother’s Day.

Apple Valley Optimist Club Recieves USO/Optimist International Patch

Members of the Apple Valley Optimist Club at Los Domingos on April 2, 2013 (Photo Credit: Apple Valley Optimist Club)

Members of the Apple Valley Optimist Club at Los Domingos on April 2, 2013 (Photo Credit: Apple Valley Optimist Club)

The Apple Valley Optimist Club has reached their goal of raising $1000 to support United Through Reading’s Military Program. The USO along with its partner United Through Reading® give deployed troops the opportunity to record themselves reading books to their children, and the recordings are then mailed back to the family along with a copy of the book.

“Think how wonderful it would be for these children to have something so memorable, not to mention the moral support this offers to the parent at home,” Apple Valley Club Chairwoman Julie Whittingham said.

For the past year, the Apple Valley Optimist Club has tirelessly held various fundraisers to support this program. Some of the events the club held includes partnering with their local Barnes & Noble’s to gift wrap books over the holidays. The club also had a booth at a local festival fairgrounds passing out information to the general public asking them to step up and support the United Through Reading’s Military Program through the USO.

The Apple Valley Optimist Club was the first Optimist Club to receive the USO/Optimist International commemorative patch for their outstanding support of military families. All Optimist Clubs raising $1,000 or more earn this patch. Congratulations, Apple Valley Optimist Club!

Always By Their Side

“Wherever you are, whatever you need, we will always be by your side.”

That’s the powerful message you can help send by supporting our April campaign which keeps the more than 160 USO locations around the world warm, welcoming and well-equipped.

Our brave servicemen and women – including the more than proudly serving from – count on USO centers as a place to relax, to connect with loved ones back home and to enjoy a wide range of USO programs and services.

Chip in $10 and join other USO supporters from in making sure USO centers stay warm, welcoming and well-equipped.

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 3.36.58 PMBecause our centers are such an essential part of their lives, your donation today is going to have an immediate impact on our troops and their families.

But just as importantly, you’ll be sending them a powerful message: That wherever our troops are serving and whenever they need our help, we will be always by their side.

Chip in today. Help us reach our goal of 65,000 people stepping forward before our April 30 deadline.

We’ve only got a few days left in this critically important drive. So, let’s go all out now and make sure we do everything we can for our troops.

- Kelli Seely, Senior Vice President, Chief Development Officer, USO

What Our Troops Asked For

When you really need to get something done, you turn to the people you can count on. Time after time, you’ve been there when we’ve asked you to invest in critical projects supporting our troops. That’s why I’m turning to you now.

Here’s the situation: Our new USO Warrior and Family Center at Ft. Belvoir is now operational. That’s crucial because the road to recovery for our wounded troops can be physically and mentally challenging.

And part of the help we can provide is the opportunity now and then to visit a home away from home during their recovery where they can relax and relieve some stress. Can we count on you to help with some critical USO projects at the USO Warrior and Family Center including furnishing and supplying our new state-of-the-art Game Room?

Please, make your donation of $10 or more to help supply and furnish the new Game Room at the brand-new USO Warrior and Family Center at Ft. Belvoir.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 3.50.30 PM

The Game Room in our new USO Warrior and Family Center at Ft. Belvoir is going to be something special — a state-of-the-art gamer’s dream. The latest and greatest video games — and all the technology to enjoy them to the fullest.

We’re installing eight 32-inch displays, video gaming chairs with built-in speakers and controls. With all of the technology provided our wounded troops and their families are guaranteed to not only have fun, but to also be helped along their path to their recovery through the therapeutic effects of positive stress relief.

And it’s impossible to think of a group of people more deserving of a chance to enjoy themselves and the comforts of home at our newest center.

Can we count you in on this special project? Click here to donate directly to the supplying and furnishing of the new Game Room at Fort Belvoir.

You’ve always been there for our troops. I hope you will step forward and support them once again with the care and commitment you’ve always shown. - Kelli Seely, Senior Vice President, Chief Development Office, USO

Phi Gamma Delta at Allegheny College Raises $1,000 for USO

The first annual Fiji Valentine’s Day Date Auction in support of the USO

The first annual Fiji Valentine’s Day Date Auction in support of the USO

With many members who are serving or have served in the military, the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta launched its philanthropic partnership with the USO in 2011. The brothers accepted the challenge with over 30 chapters holding events and raising more than $30,000 in support of our brave men and women in uniform.

On February 12, 2013 the Pi Colony of Phi Gamma Delta at Allegheny College hosted the first annual Fiji Valentine’s Day Date Auction.  Up for bid were the brothers of Phi Gamma Delta, members of other fraternities and members of university athletic teams.   Like most date auctions, each individual lot included not just the person being auctioned off, but a useful, and sometimes unique, talent.  Buyers had choices ranging from the typical home cooked meal to trips to local establishments for a night of entertainment to the ever-in-demand cleaning service.  Groups of fraternity brothers were auctioned off for the big jobs like on-campus housing cleaning and extreme snow shoveling during the next blizzard.  The highest winning bid was for $190 for a group of twelve gentlemen from Sigma Alpha Epsilon.  At the end of the evening $1,000 was raised to benefit our servicemen and women through the USO.

“Many Phi Gamma Delta brothers proudly serve (or have served) our military, making it easy for our chapters to see the benefit their support provides. In addition, the coaching and resources the USO staff provide help our undergraduate chapters to more easily plan and execute fundraising and service events, allowing them to make a difference in the lives of our men and women in uniform,” said Rob Caudill, Director of Education, Phi Gamma Delta International Headquarters.

Going once, going twice...

Going once, going twice…

Fiji chapters have chosen to support programs like United Through Reading’s Military Program, Operation Phone Home, USO2GO, Mobile Entertainment Gaming Systems (MEGS) and Operation USO Care Package as well as in their local communities through our USO Centers. Phi Gamma Delta is on 140 campuses at the foremost colleges and universities of the United States and Canada. Service is one of the fraternity’s five values and recognizes its obligation to give back to the campuses and communities that foster its growth. - Lisa Ferrari Carter, USO Relationship Manager