Run for Our Troops!

The Marine Corps Marathon and New York City Marathon may be sold out, but you can still run in the nation’s biggest marathons with Team USO! As part of Team USO, you have the opportunity to fundraise and make your miles count for our troops and their families.

When you run with Team USO, the money you raise helps the USO provide our service members with a taste of home when they are thousands of miles away from loved ones. With so many deployed and far from home, it’s important to show our troops and their families how thankful we are for their service and sacrifice. The money Team USO raises goes to support USO programs like USO Warrior and Family Care, USO Operation Phone Home and Operation USO Care Package.

In return for your commitment, you will receive a guaranteed spot in the race, fundraising toolkits and support from a fundraising professional to help meet your fundraising goal, personalized training support and an invitation to an exclusive Team USO pasta dinner.

In addition, with the money you raise for Team USO, you get exclusive USO race gear as a reward for your efforts!

When You Make Your Miles Count for the Troops, You Get:

Amt Raised

Incentive

Included Team USO Singlet
$300 TEAM USO t-shirt
$750 TEAM USO Water Bottle
$1,000 TEAM USO MP3 armband
$1,500 TEAM USO performance running hat
$2,000 TEAM USO fleece
$3,000 USO canvas backpack
$5,000. American Flag flown over Afghanistan

Spots are limited for the Marine Corps Marathon and the New York City Marathon, so register now on the Team USO website by Friday, August 3! If you have any questions, please call 703-740-4939.

Join Team USO today to show your support and make your miles count for our troops! – Sarah Camille Hipp, USO Communications Specialist

Cake Decorator Raises Dough for USO

Chris with one of his masterpieces!

Meet Chris Kasparek, the cake boss of Naples, Italy.

He’s a Navy civilian, marathon runner and cake designer extraordinaire.  And he’s putting all his talents to work for the USO.

Kasparek hadn’t planned on running a marathon this year, but a few months ago he saw a Facebook post about Team USO and decided he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete for a good cause.

“I had run three [marathons] in the last five years and had felt my body just wasn’t up for it,” he said, “And then I saw the link and was inspired.”

Team USO has a limited number of guaranteed registrations for the New York City marathon for runners who raise a minimum of $3,000.  Slots are also available for the Marine Corps marathon, with a fundraising requirement of $1,200 and the Air Force marathon with a $700 requirement.

Kasparek, the Navy’s director of child and youth programs in Naples, will compete in the New York City event, and he knew exactly how he would raise the dough. He put out the word to friends and colleagues, offering one of his famous custom cakes in exchange for a contribution.

The 37-year-old husband and father of two first started baking cakes for his children’s birthday parties, carrying on a tradition passed down by his father.

“My dad had decorated our cakes when we were kids growing up… I watched him and it was just like, ‘I want to do that for my kids.’  They’ve already said they want to do it for their kids.” 

You name it, he’s baked it—pirates and princesses, penguins and ponies, and every imaginable superhero.

So far, Kasparek has raised $3,360 for the USO, with about $700 coming from his cakes.  He’s hoping to push past the $4,000 mark by race time.

He’s been passionate about the USO since working with them last year after the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  He was sent to the Seattle airport to help coordinate child care for Japanese families who’d been evacuated to the U.S., and he was immediately impressed by the USO’s efficiency and compassion.

“Through their communications avenues, donations were coming in—diapers, food for the babies, games, coloring books, just everything that would make these families comfortable as they arrived from Japan… Whatever we needed, they found a way to get for us.”

Kasparek feels it’s his turn to give back to the USO and the troops.

He recently added a weight loss challenge to his fundraising efforts.  He’s trying to shed 35 pounds by race time.  If he doesn’t lose it all, he’ll pay back part of your pledge and cover the difference himself.

“I’ve slowed down on the cakes so I can concentrate on training,” said Kasparek, “Cakes don’t help training.” – Malini Wilkes , USO Director of Story Development

Be a Team USO Athlete

Have you ever wanted to support the troops and their families but didn’t know how? Are you a runner? Have you heard of Team USO? I think it’s about time you have! Team USO was developed as a response to people like you looking for new and fun ways to support our troops.  Through Team USO, we provide great resources for athletes and supporters to serve out mission on the ground.

Team USO athletes post-race

Team USO athletes are able to race all over the world while raising money for our troops. Whether you are already signed up for a race or planning on your next one, Team USO can help. If you choose your own event you can set your own fundraising goal. If you are trying to get into a sold-out race, though, we offer guaranteed race entries in exchange for a minimum fundraising goal!

When you join Team USO, you aren’t alone. We provide a wealth of resources and some great looking gear! As a member the USO will support you in whatever ways possible, like:

  • Fundraising toolkits
  • Support from a fundraising professional
  • Training support—training calendar, mentoring
  • Mission Moments—help you connect with troops and military families to participate in honor of
  • Prizes for reaching certain fundraising levels

Online registration is now open for the 2012 Honda LA Marathon to be held on Sunday, March 18. This is one of the largest road races in the world and the race is expected to sell out. Runners can secure their spot on the starting line by registering here. Just 25 spots are available for Team USO.

We are also proud to be among the New York Road Runners’ official charity partners for the 2012 New York City Half-Marathon! We only have 15 race registrations available so click here to register today.

Help lift the spirits of our troops and their families by joining Team USO today and get to work tomorrow! – Joe Scannell, USO New Media Intern

Special Thanks to TEAM USO!

Over the past 8 weeks, TEAM USO participants have raised $71,000 for the USO2GO Challenge. Your support is truly felt around the world! You’ve written letters, held events and run marathons. You’ve made it happen all to support our troops and their families.

They feel your support and want to thank each and every one of you! Here are just a few notes that we’ve received expressing their gratitude for your efforts:

“… If you’ve ever had a bad day and wondered why you are doing your job, well you should of seen how much horse shoes and bean bag chairs made them feel so happy after they watched their friend die. Keep up the great work and thanks again for helping my men get through this with a little hug from home.”

Troops enjoying items from USO2GO shipments

“Wow!! You guys at the USO are truly blessing from GOD, we received some items today and the look on the soldiers’ faces as they help unload the truck was worth more than words could describe. We have TV’s and we are now waiting for a few more items to arrive and we will have a Grand Opening and will send tons of pictures. I really can’t thank you enough.”

Troops enjoying items from USO2GO shipments

“Soldiers utilized the empty USO boxes and created their own version of Iron Man, we also had a karaoke contest, and an X-Box 360 tournament. Little things like this is what keep the Soldiers mind clear before they go and do the dangerous job that they do. Just like I told you before our living conditions are not like the Soldiers living at bigger installations, but this USO package is a tremendous tool to keep the Soldiers motivated, and relax. Thank you for what you do.”

You make our mission possible to achieve.  The brave men and women serving our country are going to enjoy some comforts of home during the holidays because of your great efforts. More families will be able to hear the voice of their deployed family member because the funds you raised. More troops will have games and other ways to relax because of what you’ve accomplished.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! – Tracy Tucker, USO Director of Fundraising & Development

Way To Go, TEAM USO!

A TEAM USO member at the starting line. (USO photo by Neshan Naltchayan)

We would like to applaud all members of TEAM USO who participated in the Marine Corps Marathon and 10k yesterday.  It truly was an amazing day and your support of our troops and their families is to be commended.  Altogether the team raised over $34,000, with 36 runners participating.

We’d also like to send a big thank you to all who came out to support the runners.  We know they wouldn’t have made it through 6.2 or 26.2 miles without family and friends cheering them on.  And we’re already looking forward to doing it all over again next year!

Check out more photos from the day on TEAM USO’s Facebook page. If you are interested in joining TEAM USO and running the Marine Corps Marathon in 2011 please email athleteinfo@uso.org.  TEAM USO registration for the marathon and 10K will open in early 2011 and we are always looking for new teammates.  Hope to see you out there!

The first group of TEAM USO runners pose for a group photo before heading to the start line. (USO photo by Neshan Naltchayan)

The second group of TEAM USO runners pose for a group photo before heading to the start line. (USO photo by Neshan Naltchayan)

Team Captain Tracey Holtshirley looks strong as he heads out with 26.2 miles ahead. (USO photo by Neshan Naltchayan)

TEAM USO member Nikki Etxegoien proudly wears her marathon medal, surrounded by the supporters who cheered her along the route! (USO photo by Neshan Naltchayan)

Meet Team USO’s Scott Ransom

Born into a US Navy family, Scott Ransom served in both the US Coast Guard 1978-1988 and US Army National Guard 1988-2003. He finished the Ironman Wisconsin in 10 hours and 39 minutes. (Photo courtesy of Ransom family)

You just won your age group at Ironman Wisconsin…describe what that feels like. I actually got to learn about it “gradually.”  When I first crossed the finish line and met up with my family, the official results had me in 2nd place in my Age Group.  I was still pretty happy with that and thought it would likely get me to Kona.  Later that evening one of the results websites was showing me in 1st place. I went to bed not knowing.  Next morning it was official…there had been a mixup and yes, I was 1st.  But it’s obviously quite satisfying.  Still, I know very well that anyone who finishes that race worked incredibly hard and deserves enormous credit.  Probably the best part of the day was going back to the race course and watching and cheering the other finishers.  They are so happy, and the crowd so enthusiastic.  It really makes you appreciate the human spirit.

This qualifies you for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii correct? Will you be making the trip next month? I’m going to Kona, but not until 2011.  Oct 8th 2011.  Ironman Wisconsin is the first race that qualifies for Kona the following year.  It would be too much to go race an ironman again in less than a month.  Two weeks before Wisconsin, there was Ironman Canada and Ironman Louisville.  Those folks qualify for the 2010 Kona…about 6 weeks after.  I can’t even imagine going again that soon.

How did you get started competing in triathlons? I was a swimmer as a kid.  As a young adult, I started running…did a few marathons.  That’s really tough on the legs.  So I later switched to triathlons to “spread the pain around better.”

Why did you choose to raise money for the USO and support our troops? Respect for the troops!  I was in the Army National Guard, though I retired without ever being sent anywhere.  But I know Guardsmen that were activated and deployed.  I can only imagine the danger, isolation, inconvenience, and homesickness they have.  I believe the USO is a great service to them in giving them a piece of home and making sure they know their service is appreciated.

What advice would you give people who want to do something to support the troops? Do something!  Supporting the USO is a great way.  Also, help out the family of a deployed servicemember.  Asking “if there’s anything I can do…” is not enough.  Stop by with a meal.  Tell them you are going to cut their grass on Saturday.  Tell them you’ll watch the kids some evening.  You get the idea.

What’s next for Scott Ransom… more triathlons…another challenge? After some down time, I’ll start training again for Kona.  I’ll stick with triathlons for a while.

Ransom is a 2010 Ironman Wisconsin Age Group Winner and has qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI, in 2011.  Join TeamUSO on Facebook for the latest info and updates!