By: Charley Reagan
Last year, the heat of what felt like “one thousand suns” shined down on the city known as “Hotlanta,” as Atlantans persevered to raise $16,112 for our Veterans in the city’s first ever Shootout for Soldiers. Fast-forward to 2017 and the tables could not have turned any further, with participants being thoroughly soaked from head-to-toe for 18 hours of the 24-hour event. However, through the inclement weather, a feeling of pure success dominated the Kennesaw Mountain High School venue, as the community came together to raise over $23,000 while enjoying themselves around the clock.
Although the storm came with sheets of rain and bolts of lightning, causing games to be stopped at points, spirits ofSFS Atlanta participants were never dampened. As a matter of fact, it seemed that the most fun came in the rainy wee hours of the morning when players from the Sequoyah Chiefs and the LaXsanity Saucy Goats girls teams played a girls & boys game before their own 5 AM start.
SFS Volunteer, Nolan Plant, took a break and played in their impromptu game. “Everyone was so excited to just get out there and play that no one cared about the time or weather,” he said. The same feeling could be seen when the teams took the field for their own games, in which many of the girls were dancing during draws, enjoying quality time spent with friends.
Event Organizers Brett Stevens, Tim Coons, Jay Puckett, and James Christ sported smiles all weekend with smiles on their faces, their families right by their sides. These organizers, as well as North Atlanta RV, made it easy for the SFS team, providing an RV to stay and keep gear in. One Organizer, Brett Stevens, said that he couldn’t have helped pull SFS Atlanta off without his family and friends right there with him. “I am the luckiest man in the world,” he said. Meanwhile, Tim Coons’ father and stepmother drove from Tulsa Oklahoma once again to help out during the 24 hours.
In the dryer hours of Sunday, organizer Jay Puckett brought he and his team’s families to play against one another for two separate one-hour slots of their own. While the teams were mixed on both sides with kids and parents alike, the adolescents DID NOT take it easy on their parents. But, the parents stepped up to the challenge, and in the second hour of their games, moms could be seen stopping shots left and right while in net!
SFS charity beneficiaries greeted attendees as they entered the field detailing each of their individual missions for those who stopped by their tents. This year’s local charity partners included Hire Heroes USA and America’s VetDogs. The groups interacted with guests as they came in, and for America’s VetDogs, even let guests interact with the service dogs they had brought along. Ruff! Representatives from every national charity as well were thrilled by the aura around SFS Atlanta this year, and its growth from the previous year.
As the first 24-hour event of the summer wound to a close, its organizers and charity partners struggled to hold back tears of appreciation for the support volunteers had for each of their individual causes. “I couldn’t believe how many people came up to me with a hug and thanked me for putting on this event,” said organizer Brett Stevens.
Brett, along with his fellow organizers and our SFS team would like to thank their families, PT Solutions for having staff there for 24 hours, the Siemen family, the Madish family, the Wooten family, Tom McGee, Billy Campbell and KMHS for all of their amazing support!
Joe Worley of America’s VetDogs said it best when describing the people of Atlanta, “This is a group of people with their hearts in the right place. Of course you get something out of helping other people, but it’s something that you get that also takes from you sacrificially. This wasn’t easy for these guys by any means. There’s a lot of heart and a lot of sweat, A LOT of sweat, and a lot of love that went into this.”