Shootout for Soldiers kicked off the 2019 season in Atlanta with one goal in mind: make this the best year yet. With a forecast of 95 degrees it was set to be an intense weekend, but the 500 players and 1,500 attendees who came out never gave up.
As players and attendees walked through the gates of Kennesaw Mountain High School they were greeted by the smiling and excited faces of vendors and our local charity partners, America’s VetDogs and The Patriot Legacy Fund. America’s VetDogs, established in 2003, was “created to provide enhanced mobility and renewed independence to veterans, active-duty service members, and first responders with disabilities, allowing them to once again live with pride and self-reliance.” When asked how he would describe Shootout for Soldiers in just a few words, Joe Worley, a Veterans Relations Liaison for America’s VetDogs gave just three words: “fun, energy, selfless.” Patriot Legacy Fund founder, Jay Puckett, described it as “eye-opening and communal.” Puckett, a Shootout for Soldiers Atlanta co-organizer, started Patriot Legacy Fund with the hope to “advance the educational opportunities for the children of service-disabled veterans.”
This year, we introduced a few new incentives for our teams and players to get them even more excited to fundraise for our nation’s veterans. The top fundraiser of each event will receive a custom Shootout for Soldiers helmet from Cascade Maverik LLC and one team will win the opportunity to keep their 2019 SFS jerseys. To be eligible to win the jersey raffle, teams must have registered by May 5th and hit certain fundraising marks to earn their entries. With these incentives in mind, our teams and players set off to work.
Our top fundraiser and winner of the Cascade Maverik helmet, Brett Stevens, led the pack with a fundraising total of $3,763 bringing his team Rowdy Gentlemen to a total of $6,076 – making them the top fundraising team. Last year’s top fundraising team, Seal Team Six, raised $3,930 this year and were the winners of the raffle to keep their jerseys.
Shortly after being presented as the winning team to keep their jerseys, Jay Puckett of Patriot Legacy Fund, Joe Worley of America’s VetDogs and Charlie Gressett of the Gary Sinise Foundation gave a speech to the team to thank them for their fundraising efforts.
“Last year we did about four scholarships,” said Puckett. “This year we’ll do about 29 to 30 and it’s all because of all the money that you guys raised. It helps us fund a couple more kids an opportunity to go to school.”
“Doing something like this – being involved in something like this – is big. Plus, you get to have fun,” added Worley. “Try to find things in your life that can do that because that’s incredible. It’s a huge, fulfilling thing to be able to do something that fulfills you and helps other people. We can’t do it without people like you and the money that you’ve raised is incredible.”
As the closing ceremonies commenced later that day, a check of $40,795 was presented to our Atlanta organizers and local charity partners. Shootout for Soldiers Atlanta organizer, Brett Stevens, closed out the event with a heartfelt message to the teams, players, attendees, and volunteers who helped make SFS Atlanta possible. “This would not be possible and we owe everything to you,” said Stevens. “You guys are the ones who made this so much fun. You guys come out here, you grind it out in the rain and all the bad weather, so I am grateful for everything you guys do.”