Ah, summer. Kids playing in sprinklers, ice cream trucks making the rounds, and Team Foster going full-steam ahead.
That’s right, we’ve been hard at work raising awareness for our wounded veterans, but don’t feel too badly for us — there’s been plenty of beer.
On May 24, our friends at Conshohocken Brewing Company hosted us for a Paws and Patriots Give Back Night. You’ve likely heard of Conshy — their English-style Pale Ale, Puddler’s Row, just took home a silver medal from the 2016 World Beer Cup Awards, beating out 32 entries from around the globe.
So between the tasty libations and tasty view of the Schuylkill River Trail, this is a sweet spot for spreading the good word about Team Foster. Several runners even stopped their workouts early, coming off the trail to see what the fuss was about. We sold tee-shirts, recruited riders for the Foster 100, and got hopped up — not just on IPA, but on all the good energy in the room. Big shout out to our newest sponsors, At Attention Dog Training, for all their help with planning and marketing.
At the end, Conshy donated 25 percent of the evening’s proceeds to our cause, which translates to about 400 Benjamins for Team Foster. We’ll be raising our next pint to all who came out.
The good energy carried over into Memorial Day weekend. On May 27, from the students and faculty of Rancocas Valley High School, we accepted a check for $15,000… which pretty much gives all new meaning to the phrase “kids today.”
It all happened on the football field at the school’s annual Memorial Day ceremony. In front of a student body 2,000 kids strong, teachers, administrators, support workers and members of the community who’ve served in our armed forces were honored, as were the 12 students who will be enlisting after graduation. Rancocas has a thriving JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp) program of 200 kids.
Our guy Nick spoke to the crowd about our namesake, Captain Erick Foster, and about the importance of Team Foster’s 2016 mission — raising money to pair service dogs with wounded vets. Burlington County freeholder Ryan Peters, Navy SEAL, reminded everyone what a true hometown hero looks like.
“On some level, you don’t want to bring attention to the worst thing that can happen,” Nick said. “At the same time, it’s important to let these kids know that if the worst does happen, they will not be forgotten. What they are doing matters.”
While there were somber moments, there was also a lot of joy, thanks in part to the presence of Echo, one of this year’s service-dogs-in-training. “They treated him like a rock star when he walked on stage,” Nick said. “He loved every minute of it — his tail was wagging so hard, his entire body shook. And his tongue went up quite a few noses.”
We left the students and teachers who spearheaded the fundraising effort, as well as the students about to become our brothers-and-sisters-in-arms, with Team Foster tee-shirts reading “Charlie Mike,” or “continue mission” in military parlance. For the kids, Nick explained, the phrase has a double meaning — “continue pursuing your goals.” Team Foster promises to keep pursuing our own by making sure our veterans can “Charlie Mike” when they get home, living lives that are both fulfilled and supported.
One way we do this is by raising awareness for the cause via athletic events. On July 3, we participated in Rancocas Valley High’s annual Devil Dash, a mud run and obstacle course that benefited Team Foster as well as the Pat Tillman Foundation. (Have we mentioned how impressive this student body is?) And, on June 12, four members of the TF crew took part in a doozie of a race. Called Escape the Cape, the triathlon involves jumping 12-feet from the deck of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry into the Delaware Bay for the first leg of the competition.
Let’s just say the leap was the easy part.
The twenty-five-mile-an-hour gusts of wind meant swells in the bay were more than six feet high, so that each stroke involved getting slapped by a disorienting wall of liquid. After the swim came the bike and run — in 88 degree weather and swamp-like humidity. But with Erick’s voice in our ear — telling us to stop whining — we persevered. Nick finished the sprint race, while his wife Lindsay, nine months pregnant, braved the conditions to spectate. (She’s the real trooper here…). Meanwhile, Matt Krouse, Laurie Moore and Kevin Johnson completed the Olympic race with Matt finishing second overall in the swim.
We rounded out the month at Williamstown High School — what can we say? We love meeting enthusiastic kids who restore our faith in the good of humanity. Even though it was the second to last day of school, the 400 students we met were engaged, and eager to learn about the Team Foster mission (and, let’s be honest, eager to cuddle the pup). In fact, Williamstown High will be manning one of our rest stops along the Foster 100 route. One teenager even volunteered to help recruit new riders.
Kids today, huh?
We’ll keep you posted on all the good things to come from this partnership. In other words: the future’s looking bright.