Anniversaries are a time to commemorate how we started and celebrate where we are going.
In September of 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops began with one event at Mendakota Country Club in Mendota Heights, Minnesota and started raising funds and awareness for injured veterans in that inaugural year. This year, on the 15th Anniversary of Tee It Up for the Troops and the Mendakota event, more than 60 events will take place which has allowed us to donate over $10,000,000 since inception for critically needed services for veterans.
Tee It Up for the Troops is all about the PEOPLE. The people who launched this organization 15 years ago, the wonderful veterans connected with our mission and the people who continue to commit volunteer time and talent to our charity events. For the Mendakota Country Club event, the person that rallies the troops of enthusiastic volunteers and sponsors is Rick Dale. Passionate, personal and patriotic describe Rick’s committed character.
“My initial involvement to lead one of the golf events was based on our youngest son who was stationed in a very bad place in the northern Helmund Province in Afghanistan,” said Rick. “Once I started meeting other Tee It Up for the Troops volunteers, employees and the veterans we serve, I got more passionate about it. Then I got to meet the leaders and beneficiaries of the organizations we donate funds to and got hooked. I still remember the first time we visited the Minneapolis VA Hospital where the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) houses and counsels formerly homeless veterans. Listening to the many veterans we meet, it’s easy to get passionate about our mission.”
We are fortunate that Rick is a leader and spokesperson for Tee It Up for the Troops. He not only chairs the Mendakota Country Club event, but he also leads the event at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club in Lakeville, MN held in September.
Rick served in the United States Air Force from 1967 to 1971. He is the son of a WWII Army officer, son-in-law of a WWII Naval officer, brother to five veterans that served from the Korean Conflict through the Vietnam War. He and his wife, Sue, are parents of US Marine Corp Staff Sergeant Eric Dale, who is now assigned to the United States Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus.
There are several key long-time volunteers and sponsors at the annual Mendakota event that make this event exceptional each year. One of those volunteers is Sue Bonfe, a Mendakota Golf Club Member, who interfaces with the club, has a strong passion for older veterans and hosted a special Thanksgiving turkey meal for eight WWII vets and ten Korean war vets as a way of thanking them for their service. The laughter and chatter in the room were non-stop and veterans that hadn’t met before shared their experiences and life stories and left talking about next year.
“My father was in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII and since he passed away, I found that volunteering at Tee It Up for the Troops is the best way I can honor his life,” said Sue. “Our members have the chance to meet and share their golf course with many of the wonderful veterans who have experienced tremendous physical and mental challenges. By giving time and funds to this event, I get back much, much more than I can even imagine. I know that I am directly helping improve a veteran’s life. I love that such a high percentage of funds (95% I believe) raised goes directly to the deserving veteran organizations.”
Tee It Up for the Troops is an organization conceived by the parents of a soldier. One of the originators of Tee It Up for the Troops shared this comment in celebration of the 15th anniversary:
“In 2005, our son was serving in Iraq. When we asked him what he needed, his response was ‘Forget about me, do something for those back home.’ That simple request became the genesis of Tee It Up for the Troops. Fifteen years later we are humbled that the organization is still honoring that request. Initially created with our family and friends, it was soon followed by sponsors, volunteers, and citizens across the country that were moved to honor the mission to serve those who serve.” -Parents of a Soldier
The event that started it all – Mendakota! Fifteen years and countless volunteer hours per year later, with a volunteer board of directors and small staff to oversee a dedicated army of event leaders, volunteers, sponsors and supporters numbering in the hundreds, Tee It Up for the Troops continues to march forward on its mission of providing critically needed services for combat veterans and their families, one event at a time.