A return to Troopathon

A Memorial Day weekend tradition of mine that’s sadly missed is the Concert for a Random Soldier, which for many years featured a late, lamented friend of mine and her husband as part of the band Semiblind and oftentimes double duty as they also played as an acoustic duo called Dog and Butterfly.

With that event’s demise due to issues with the venue, I thought this could fill the bill as somewhat appropriate for Memorial Day weekend.

It was back in 2008 that I became aware of an event designed to help the morale of our armed forces fighting overseas. And since the event was patterned after the longtime successful Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethons for muscular dystrophy, it was called Troopathon.

Despite a struggling economy, a presidential election where our foreign policy was a key source of debate, and a general weariness of overseas fighting against the irregular forces of radical Islam, the first Troopathon was a huge success, bringing in well over a million dollars that purchased care packages for these overseas trips. It was such a success that they did it again the next year despite the change in administration and shift to a more inward-looking foreign policy. Once again they raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for these care packages.

Over the next few years, they took advantage of coverage from websites like mine to use them as conduits for contributions. For awhile I had a badge on my site telling readers I was a part (small, but nonetheless a part) of a silver-medal winning blog team led by the Hot Air website. I brought it back for a cameo, as you can see below.

Back in the day.

But as the years went by the Troopathon concept became a more modest one. Goals which were once lofty such as $500,000 dissolved to $300,000 and the withdrawal of most of our Iraqi troops allowed people to place this event out of sight and out of mind. Even I pretty much stopped covering this after the 2014 session, as bloggers raised a paltry $600 combined. The last time I mentioned Troopathon was three years ago, when I sheepishly realized I missed the event.

So I was happy to see that Move America Forward (MAF) was still plugging away with trying to support the troops through the one-night telethon, which is scheduled this year for June 28. Instead of having it at a presidential library, as has often been the case over the years, Troopathon 12 will be broadcast from the studios of Newsmax TV, which has partnered with MAF to broadcast their event to cable, making it available in over 60 million households. This year it should eclipse the $6 million mark in total donations.

It’s also interesting to me to ponder if there’s a local angle to this. In the Salisbury area we have an organization called Operation We Care, which also packs troop care packages – about 2,000 a year, according to their website. I suspect these are two separate organizations, but perhaps they could figure out a way to join forces, even if the Operation We Care volunteers do the packaging of the care packages for which Troopathon raised the money.

It turns out that several young men my family knows are in the military now, with at least one or two deployed overseas (although not necessarily in a “hot” theater of operations.) While they (and all other military recruits) are promised long-term benefits for sacrificing their time and efforts in the short-term, it’s good to see people still care enough to back these groups.

While I’d love to see the need for a Troopathon eliminated because our nation has peace through strength, we’re nowhere close to a pax Americana at the moment. Thus, our troops are worth supporting whether it’s through Troopathon or by Operation We Care.

Better late than never

Ever have something sneak up on you and by the time you realize it, you’ve missed out? Such was the case with Troopathon 9, which occurred last Thursday. The six hour internet telethon is put together annually by the advocacy group Move America Forward. At one time they held competitions to see which group of bloggers could raise the most money and I was pleased to be on teams that were among the leaders, even if my part was much smaller than some of the others. It’s an event I have supported for some time, so I was disappointed to realize I missed it.

Luckily, if you have the time and would like to see what a number of conservative commentators have to say about the troops and the cause, the original broadcast is still available for viewing. More importantly, though, they reached their initial goal of $300,000 to help provide care packages for our troops overseas – so with that success they’ve pushed the goal to $325,000. As of last night when I wrote this they were at $309,639 and they are collecting Troopathon donations through July 4.

The good news on this front is that the cost to send a care package has not changed since the last time I sent one, as they start at $24.99. According to the sponsor, this is what they receive:

Each care package sponsored is packed with love and care by our team of dedicated volunteers and include the following:

Gourmet Coffee, Premium Beef Jerky, Genuine Oreo Cookies, Flavored Gatorade, Mixed Nuts/Trail Mix bags, Baby Wipes, Hot Chocolate, M&M’s, Snickers, Skittles and other assorted treats, Natural Grain/Granola/Protein Bars, Gum, Sunflower Seeds, Hot Apple Cider, Shampoo & Conditioner, Deodorant, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Foot Cream or Powder, SPF Lip Balm, SPF Sunscreen, Bug Repellent, Military Issue Boot Socks, Magazines and Books, Casino Style Playing Cards, Phone Cards, Instant Lunches, Batteries, Laundry Detergent, Military Crisis Line/Military OneSource Resource Information, Care Packages Request Form, Handwritten Thank You Messages from School Children and other Supporters, Seasonal Items for Current Holiday, K-9 Care Packages also include eye-protecting “Doggles” & extra thick PetSport “Tuff” Balls

***Care Package Items vary depending on time of year, supply, and troop request***

That’s right the most important part of our care package comes from you. Each comes with a personal message you write.

I’ve often wondered what has become of the few that I’ve sent over the years, but I suppose that doesn’t matter as much as making sure the troops in the field know we have their back. While the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan (with a smaller ramp-up in Iraq) has meant that only around 10,000 soldiers remain in the field, the need is still there.

So if you have a few spare dollars in your couch cushions, dig them out and let our military know they are not forgotten, unlike me and my faulty memory for neglecting to plug Troopathon 9 earlier.

A Troopathon update

troopathon2014_banner_160x240Just before heading into the Independence Day holiday, I wanted to update you on the status of Troopathon 7.

When I last left you on the subject, they were looking to reach a goal of $300,000. At the end of the telecast they finished about $1,600 short of the goal, but subsequent offerings enticed them to raise the goal to $350,000. As of this writing, they are at $317,950.

One thing I have not been able to track down is how much this site raised in the overall bloggers’ competition. I know that Wayne Dupree won (and received the AR-15 they were giving away) but I don’t have my own number. I will tell you that one of my readers donated to my PayPal account with the intention of using that as a donation, so I purchased another care pack on her behalf (made sure the note said so as well.) If, between her donation and my personal purchase, that was all I accomplished I would be a little disappointed in my readership but secure in the knowledge I made a little bit of difference.

It will be interesting to see in which direction Troopathon goes next year, since plans have been made to withdraw most of our remaining armed forces from Afghanistan. Unless we suddenly decide to slug it out with the ISIS terrorists in Iraq, 2015 will bring perhaps the smallest number of Americans in combat this century, since Barack Obama is hellbent on wrapping up the Long War whether victory is in hand or not. Of course, it won’t mean those few who remain won’t appreciate the efforts provided by Move America Forward, but I think it’s a question I think is worth asking. So I will and if the response is worthwhile it can be featured here.

Update: I raised $50 out of the total bloggers’ pool of $600, good for fourth-best. I think as a group we did better last year, but every little bit helps. It’s sort of sad that a number of bloggers who agreed to participate didn’t even help for themselves.

Today is the day

Well, I didn’t win my election. But there’s another place I can be a winner with your help.

There are a number of bloggers competing for prizes in a contest sponsored by Troopathon 7, which goes online tonight. (Later this afternoon I will set up a live feed as I have done before.) Sorry, no live feed. I got home much later than I thought.

I found out last night that this humble blog is in fifth place overall, neck-and-neck with Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs, and I’m not all that far out of the lead. So if you want to help out me and a good cause, donate through the box on the right-hand side of the page (it accrues to my score.) With some help I can win this thing.

The return of Troopathon

troopathon2014_banner_160x240 As I have done for the last several years, I’m supporting Troopathon 7, which is a continuing effort by the group Move America Forward to send care packages to our troops on the front lines in the Long War. Even if you don’t necessarily support the mission and would prefer the troops come home, while they are still there we should do what we can to make their lives a little more comfortable.

The format is the same as previous events – on June 25 there will be an 8-hour internet telecast from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library featuring longtime hostess Melanie Morgan and many other conservative heavyweights in the media world. Generally they update their site regularly on the status of special guests.

You may recall that in past years I have been a member of a team of bloggers called the Hot Air Steamers – it was a solid lineup which garnered the second-highest amount of contributions in 2012. The folks at MAF have decided to retire that competition, though, and now every blogger works on his or her own to qualify for prizes in specific tiers, with the overall leader receiving an AR-15. Now you all could surprise me, but I’m not going to hold my breath that I can get to that level – just making it to the first tier would be a nice achievement. (It would take about 20 or 21 donors from this site to do so.)

So on the right-hand sidebar, just down from the political ads, you will see a icon similar to the one on the upper left of this post. If you click it you’ll go to a page where you can fill out an order form and anything purchased there is credited to my account. Once I verify all is in order (they’re West Coast-based so I’ll find out this afternoon) I’ll start the ball rolling myself, although if you want to go first by all means do so. It matters less that it accrues to me than it does assisting them.

It’s a cause I believe in and every little bit helps. And don’t forget you can watch the Troopathon online June 25 – as I recall it runs from 4 p.m. to midnight EDT. Their goal is a modest $300,000 this year so let’s see if we can help them get there.

Troopathon 6 broadcast

Video streaming by Ustream

Hopefully this works: it’s seat of the pants blogging at its finest since I had to modify the embed code to suit.

Update: At the end of their live broadcast (11 p.m. Eastern time) they had raised $321,041. It’s short of their $400,000 goal but there is probably some counting to do as well. As I recall, though, they are in better shape than they were last year as far as reaching their goal.

Troopathon 6 is today!

Update: I have an embed code so I’m going to try and see how it works. Look for it at 4:00 after a special matinee Shorebird of the Week announcement at 10:30 this morning.

I’ll be away for a good part of the day with my outside job, but I’ll be anxious to get back and see how this 8-hour internet broadcast goes.

In its sixth year, the Troopathon combines guests from the worlds of Hollywood and politics to try and entertain and inform those watching, meanwhile raising money which goes to creating care packages for our troops in harm’s way overseas. This year’s guest roster includes such familiar names as Gary Sinise, Gene Simmons, Vice-President Dick Cheney (as well as his daughter Liz), Texas Governor Rick Perry and his state’s junior Senator Ted Cruz, former Congressman Lt. Col. Allen West, Ambassador John Bolton, and radio talkers Mark Levin, Herman Cain, Dennis Miller, and Dana Loesch, just to name a few.

They will also be giving away an AR-15 rifle (see their site for details) and attempt to raise as much as they can for this purpose. Last year they set an original goal of $250,000 but exceeded it and ended up around $400,000 when all was said and done.

Now there are several ways you can donate but perhaps the easiest is to just click on the “Please Donate” yellow button on my site under the Troopathon banner. Not only do you help the overall cause, you also help our team, the Hot Air Steamers. As I write this we are leading the race for most contributions, but the three-time defending champion Greyhawks are making a fast and furious charge. I’d like to finish first this year.

Troopathon 6 begins at 4 p.m. here in the Eastern Time Zone (1:00 where broadcast, from the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California.) If possible I will try and live stream it here (since I had issues with it last year) but you can always go to the Troopathon site to watch it.

A renewed effort

Tonight I’m pleased to announce that I will yet again be a collection point and participating blogger on the Hot Air Steamers team for Troopathon 6, coming up Thursday, June 27 and broadcast from the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California. (Interesting choice of venue, but I digress. I’m sure their staff will bend over backwards to make it a good event.)

The 8 hour Troopathon will be hosted by San Francisco-area radio talk show host Melanie Morgan and Gold Star Mother Debbie Lee, along with co-hosts Gov. Mike Huckabee and Larry O’Connor of Breitbart.com. They always have an interesting roster of special guests as well.

Now I can’t imagine the time and effort it takes to put together an 8-hour telecast with an ambitious fundraising goal – generally they aim for around $250,000, although the very first effort in 2008 raised $1.2 million. Since we now have fewer troops in harm’s way, the fiscal goal is more modest but the need is still there.

As I mentioned above, I’m once again on the Hot Air Steamers team which includes Hot Air (of course), The Lonely Conservative, myself, and some fourth blog called Raging Against the Rhetoric. Yes, my friend Jackie Wellfonder has graciously agreed to jump on board and will probably outraise the rest of us, so I better get cracking!

Something a little different this year is that the Troopathon is using the crowdsourcing website Fundly to raise money. If you follow the  “Please Donate” link on my site, whatever you donate accrues toward our team’s total – and I want to win this year.

Troopathon blog results are in – sort of

Just over two weeks ago I helped promote the 5th annual Troopathon, which eventually exceeded its $250,000 support goal and languishes barely short of a revised $400,000 milepost with just over $390,000 collected so far.

But there was also a blogger’s contest held as part of that event, and I wondered how my team, the Hot Air Steamers, did. As you can see by the medal now prominent in my sidebar we finished in second place to the Connecticut-based Greyhawks team, which have now won the competition three years in a row. (No shame in that.) I believe the missing link to our five-person team may have been the former site No More Sheeples, which seems to have gone inactive – others among us were Hot Air (of course), Maggie’s Notebook, and The Lonely Conservative.

In third place came a team called the Anti-Jihadists, which boasts sites like Creeping Sharia (which I linked to), Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs, and several others.

One piece of information I have asked for but haven’t received are the totals from each team, although through a little digging I found out Rush Limbaugh chipped in $150,000 by himself. (Put the guy on our team next time!)

Also from what I’ve been able to figure out, this year’s contest was a little shorter than last year’s so blog totals may have been less than impressive – for example, the Greyhawks raised $19,000 last year (out of about $30,000 total) as the winners but the contest went for over a month before the actual event. This year’s rendition didn’t begin until around the end of June, so we had two weeks to collect. Whatever the totals, though, every little bit helped.

And I’m still pleased to add this medal to my site as a year-round reminder that Troopathon will be there to support our soldiers for as long as they stay in harm’s way.

Troopathon falls a little short of goal (update: they made it!)

I just finished watching the Troopathon, and while it fell somewhat short of its $250,000 goal during the broadcast they still raised $221,415. That’s nothing to sneeze at and should enable many thousands of troops to get a surprise package in their mail.

Because I was away from much of the evening I didn’t see many of their big-name guests, but I was somewhat disappointed the register at the bottom of the telecast only showed just over 4,000 people watched the program co-hosted by CNN’s Dana Loesch, radio talk hosts J.D. Hayworth (a former Congressman) and Melanie Morgan, and Gold Star Mother Debbie Lee. Surely it didn’t help to no longer have Andrew Breitbart’s star power to draw more viewers.

Of course, just because the show is over that doesn’t mean the charity goes black, as Move America Forward collects donations all year. And while their goals have progressively become more modest over the years, the need will still be there for the foreseeable future.

I also don’t know how the blogger competition came out, but whether the Hot Air Steamers team I participated with did well or not every little bit helped. I know two of my “teammates,” The Lonely Conservative and Maggie’s Notebook, were carrying the Troopathon live on their site – for some reason those sort of windows don’t seem to work as well here. (It may be because I have to adjust the window to fit to my format – Ustream is finicky sometimes. I also have to use the old embed code for YouTube videos, so that may be a clue.) Regardless, the event can be reviewed at those two locations or at the Troopathon site.

Perhaps over the next few days a few late donations will put them over the top.

Update, 7-13, 10 p.m. – according to a Move America Forward e-mail I received, they indeed got some serious late donations:

Thanks to a very generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous, we are able to raise our goal to get care packages to more of our troops in Afghanistan. We set a modest goal of $250,000 because contributions had been dropping as our economy stalls.

We’re now in a position to get care packages to most of the troops that are in harm’s way. To get that many care packages, we raised our goal to $400,000 and are now only $28,539 short of hitting that mark. Can you help push us over the top so our military men and women will know they are not forgotten?

Combined with all the other money that has come in overnight, we’re now at a total of $371,461 raised for the Troopathon. That means we’ve achieved our initial goal, thanks to the generosity of many awesome patriots like yourself!

I knew Americans had it in them, so my faith in country is bolstered once again.

The contribution process

Today promises to be the last of the brutally hot days our region has endured, as temperatures are predicted to retreat into the eighties for the next few days. (If anything, we could use the rain this cold front may bring us.) But for several thousand men and women, 100-degree days are common during the summer because they’re serving in the arid lands of the Middle East.

Now I understand the argument that many make: well, they’re the ones who volunteered to serve so they probably had an idea of what they were getting into. Moreover, when they return they’re going to be the recipient of a host of government goodies, such as a lifetime of medical benefits, assistance in paying for a college education, and preferences in various areas of housing and employment. No doubt many have seen this as an attractive way of life, well worth the risk to life and limb – particularly as the benefits of military service are continually promoted in venues attractive to the younger generation.

Yet when they arrive at the front against Islamic terrorism they find that William Tecumseh Sherman was right: war is hell. Soldiers can do all the training and wargaming that’s demanded of them, but when the objective by the enemy is to inflict real, honest-to-God death and destruction onto people they have no compunction whatsoever about killing (nor about dying for their own cause) by any means possible – including tactics far outside the Geneva Convention – it’s a wonder more don’t crack under all that stress. Seeing good friends blown to bits by an IED doesn’t do wonders for one’s psyche. And yes, I again acknowledge the argument that these sons and daughters of ours volunteered for the gig.

So when they receive something tangible which expresses our support I’m sure it makes their day; an island of hope and comfort among the drudgery and despair.

The cynic in all of us also says that those companies and entities which supply the items placed in the care package are in it for the publicity or the tax writeoff, and that could be true. To be honest, I’m not clear just how Move America Forward (the organization which sponsors the Troopathon and these care packages) acquires the items for the packages they send overseas – my guess is that many of them are donated by suppliers while others are purchased at a nominal to wholesale price. And obviously there’s the cost of postage involved in getting these overseas. I can tell you the price has increased over the years since I think the initial 2008 package (which may not have had the same number of items, so I could be doing an apples-to-oranges comparison) was around $15 apiece. It’s gone up a couple dollars each year since.

Still, I figure it’s the least I can do to thank those who put their lives on the line for us. While many question our purpose in fighting overseas, the fact is that we will be there until our Commander-in-Chief says we come back.

As for the Troopathon itself, it will be broadcast over the internet, presumably at the Troopathon site, starting at 4 p.m. this coming Thursday, July 12. (At this time they have a rebroadcast of last year’s program there.) Over previous years a veritable who’s who of conservative and pro-troop personalities have stopped by, and this year will be no exception.

The difference is, as I detailed a little last week, that I have a fair amount of bragging rights at stake because I am part of a larger blogger team. No question I want to do my part as I have the third-most-read website on the team (behind Hot Air, of course, and The Lonely Conservative) according to Alexa ranking so I should be a key contributor to the cause. I figure if fifty readers can help out that would be an appropriate kickstart. Now I know I have way more than fifty readers on any given day so this is quite doable, I think.

If you support the troops, here’s a way to do so. I did, and I’m just a struggling middle-aged blogger. Just click on the large banner on the right sidebar and enlist yourself in my army of troop supporters!


Troopathon 2012 set to go, and I’m a small part

No, I won’t be appearing on the internet broadcast. But last evening, for the first time, I was accepted into the bloggers’ competition for this event. There are several teams of bloggers which attempt to outdo the others and I will be part of a team called the Hot Air Steamers. Besides Hot Air (which will likely get most of the contributions) there are others like Maggie’s Notebook and The Lonely Conservative on the team, or so I am told. I’m sure the Move America Forward group will be putting out team rosters at some point.

So what I have done is set up a link to our team on the sidebar – you can’t very well miss it – and your job (should you choose to accept it) is to contribute by buying a care package for the troops, starting at $24.99. I’m a person of modest means but I will be getting one on Friday when I’m paid. Shoot, if everyone who reads this website in a week got one the Hot Air team would get a significant boost and people there might just say, “what is this monoblogue?” and stop by. It can’t hurt, and it certainly would be a great morale boost for our volunteers in far-flung lands.

(I was just looking at the e-mail which invited me, and the bloggers as an aggregate raised $30,000 in care packages for the troops last year. So my readership note definitely stands – even the small fraction of my readership that 50 packages would account for would be huge at $25 apiece. Seems like a worthy goal.)

Now I understand that a large percentage of my readership is burnt out on war and probably despises the Commander-in-Chief. But it’s always been said on the Left that “oh, we support our troops, we just don’t support their mission.” Well, to them I say put up or shut up. And to those on the right side, it’s a worthy cause to which I’ve donated a few times over the years.

As I said up top, I’m not going to be on the actual broadcast (July 12, 4 p.m. to midnight in the Eastern Time Zone) but if I get the chance I will be watching. They have a number of interesting guests from the conservative world each year and this year they’ll also be remembering Andrew Breitbart as part of the webcast. It would be nice to see them crack the million-dollar barrier again as they did in the inaugural 2008 edition, but I’m sure they’d settle for beating last year’s mark of around $500,000.

And if I can be of assistance, I’m glad to help.